GAFAnomics results [4th quarter of 2019]

Fabernovel is pleased to release this new edition of “Gafanomics Quarterly”, our publication which offers you every quarter a transversal review of the earnings releases and strategic announcements of the disruptive tech giants. 

This last quarter was somewhat special in our view, ushering in new times at several levels : a new fiscal year, a new decade and the accelerating change towards new value patterns. 

After a challenging Q3, the Tech segment outperformed all other sectors on the Street with an impressive cumulated market cap gain of more than $1,300bn for our sample of 20 firms (i.e. the equivalent of Microsoft market value or the annual GDP of Spain). This was underpinned by the robust quarterly delivery of most of the Tech leaders with a value pattern still favoring user and top-line growth pattern compared to margin expansion. Our sample of Tech disruptors posted median revenue growth of 23% and 17% EBIT growth in Q4 19, with very similar figures for FY19. 

Is this outperformance set to last? 

Beyond their economic power, the Tech leaders face several challenges. Facing rising maturity and competition, they are increasingly criticized on their dark side and their Achilles heel: Corporate and Social Responsibility. Several of them recorded in the last months the departures of their founders (Travis Kalanick at Uber, Jack Ma from Alibaba, Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Google, Adam Neumann at WeWork). Softbank has seen the arrival of activist investors in their capital. 

The Green tide was the most striking new theme emerging from Q4 releases. Many tech players (Microsoft, Amazon, …) have started to communicate on the environmental impact. Greenwashing or strategic reality? Probably both. But we hope that the latter will prevail! Given their deep pockets, innovation culture and infrastructure power, Tech giants are probably among the few Corporates that can save the planet. The Coronavirus crisis has shown that software can help adapt in critical situation with new practices (more remote work) that can reduce carbon emissions. 

In a new world where transparency and responsibility will increasingly drive valuation, we are convinced that this Green horizon can be a structuring value path for GAFAM & Co but also an area where they can join forces with other Corporates. 

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