Amazon Doubles Q1 Earnings Predictions, Stock Jumps to All-Time High


Amazon blitzed past Wall Street’s high hopes when it reported its first quarter financials on Thursday, with the e-commerce giant more than doubling earnings projections.

After markets closed on Thursday, Amazon reported revenue of $51.04 billion and earnings of $3.27 cents a share for the three months ended on March 31. Analysts had projected $49.78 billion in revenue and earnings of $1.26 cents a share on average.

Amazon had a 43 percent year-over-year increase in sales, and its earnings more than doubled from the $724 million it reported during the first quarter of 2017. The tech juggernaut posted its 12th straight quarterly profit, pulling in $1.6 billion in net income.

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Chief Executive Jeff Bezos pointed to the company’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services, in his statement accompanying earnings. AWS hauled in $5.4 billion in sales during the quarter, a 49 percent-year-over-year increase.

“AWS had the unusual advantage of a seven-year head start before facing like-minded competition, and the team has never slowed down,” said Bezos. “As a result, the AWS services are by far the most evolved and most functionality-rich. AWS lets developers do more and be nimbler, and it continues to get even better every day. That’s why you’re seeing this remarkable acceleration in AWS growth, now for two quarters in a row. A huge thank you to all our AWS customers, and you can be sure we’ll keep working hard for you.”

Investors quickly gave Amazon a vote of confidence, with its shares running 7 percent to hit a new all-time high above $1,630 a share in after-hours trading. Amazon had already been on a breakneck pace this year, with its shares climbing nearly 30 percent to $1,511 a share since the start of 2018.

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The company will hold a call at 5:30 p.m. ET to discuss its earnings.

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Diamond and Silk Tell Congress They’ve Never Been Paid by President Trump, Campaign Filing Says Otherwise


Pro-Trump commentators Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson — better known as Diamond and Silk — testified to Congress on Thursday they’d never been paid by the president — but campaign filings prove otherwise.

A $1,274 payment to Diamond and Silk for “field consulting” appears on a Federal Election Commission filing for President Trump, as The Hill’s Will Sommer quickly pointed out.

Diamond and Silk are claiming in their House hearing right now that they’ve never been paid by the Trump campaign. But the Trump campaign FEC filing disagrees!

— Will Sommer (@willsommer) April 26, 2018

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But when pressed on their claim they’d never been paid by the president, the sisters insisted the payment was strictly to cover airline expenses.

“We are familiar with that particular lie, we can see that you do look at fake news,” said Silk. “We’ve never been paid by the Trump campaign,” added Diamond.

The sisters have made a name for themselves as outspoken fans of Trump before and after his 2016 election win, racking up more than 1.5 million Facebook followers in the process. Their testimony to the House Judiciary Committee at times mirrored their passionate videos, which routinely pull in several hundred thousand views.

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Diamond and Silk were in Washington, D.C. to weigh in on censorship in social media.

“Facebook along with other social media sites have taken aggressive actions to silence conservative voices such as ourselves by deliberately restricting and weaponizing our page with algorithms that censored and suppress our free speech,” said the sisters in their prepared remarks.

But the issue of whether or not they were paid by President Trump flared up more than once. Hakeem Jeffries, a Democratic representative from New York, asked Diamond and Silk if they were aware they were subject to perjury. Jeffries then pushed the duo on the president’s supposed recommendation they make money off of their support for his campaign.

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“He urged us to monetize our platform,” said Diamond. “You as an African-American are not going to make us feel guilty because we are going to get out here and take advantage of these platforms and monetize just like everybody else does.”

You can watch the full House hearing below:

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Remember Spectacles? Snap Just Unveiled Version 2.0 of Its Camera-Glasses


Maybe the second time will be the charm for Snap’s Spectacles.

Snapchat’s parent company unveiled the 2.0 version of its camera-sunglasses on Thursday, complete with a series of product upgrades. The new Spectacles can now snap pictures, rather than just video, are water-proof, and captures everything in HD.

“We want Spectacles to be the simplest and easiest way to make memories from your point of view, and we appreciate all of your thoughtful feedback — many of these improvements were inspired by you!” Snap said in a blog announcement.

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Remember those long lines of people queued up at Snapchat vending machines in the fall of 2016, waiting to get their hands on the first iteration of Spectacles? Those quickly faded, and won’t even be an option this time. Snap is selling its new glasses straight from for $149.99.

Snap’s first jump into hardware didn’t go according to plan, with the company only selling a few hundred thousand pairs of Spectacles. Snap took a $40 million loss on Spectacles, the company announced last fall. CEO Evan Spiegel said Snap made the “wrong decision” in making too many pairs after its strong initial reception dried up.

But maybe the new version, with its changes, will catch on. Spectacles 2.0 will look to be more inconspicuous than their predecessor, with the new glasses not lighting up when they’re recording. The new glasses go on sale Thursday.

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Facebook Crushes Wall Street Expectations, Reports $12 Billion in Q1 Revenue


What scandal? Facebook shrugged off the impact of a massive data leak and reported better-than-expected revenue for the 12th straight quarter when the social network reported its Q1 earnings after the bell on Wednesday.

Facebook pulled in $11.97 billion in revenue and earnings of $1.69 a share for the three months ended March 31 — pushing past analyst expectations of $1.35 a share and sales of $11.41 billion. The revenue haul was a 49 percent year-over-year increase.

The social network saw a slight uptick in daily active users, hitting 1.45 billion DAUs, compared with 1.40 billion last quarter. After losing daily users in North America for the first time last quarter, Facebook bounced back in Q1, adding back the 1 million users it lost while hitting 185 million DAUs. Its monthly active users increased to 2.2 billion overall, slightly passing Wall Street expectations of 2.19 billion.

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Facebook shares jumped 4.6 percent in extended trading on Wednesday, hitting $167.40 a share.

“Despite facing important challenges, our community and business are off to a strong start in 2018,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a statement. “We are taking a broader view of our responsibility and investing to make sure our services are used for good. But we also need to keep building new tools to help people connect, strengthen our communities, and bring the world closer together.”

Facebook was humming along for much of the quarter before being derailed by the Cambridge Analytica data leak — where up to 87 million users had their information unknowingly grabbed by the political firm in 2014. To be sure, with the leak only coming to light in the final weeks of the quarter, its reverberations might not be felt until the social network reports for Q2. Still, the incident forced Facebook and its execs into a series of mea culpas, along with changes to how the company shares data with apps and advertisers.

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It’s share price has taken a beating in the meantime, falling from about $185 a share in mid-March — pushing near all-time highs for the company — to $160 a share heading into Wednesday afternoon.

The dip appeared to be a buying opportunity for Facebook’s board, however, with the company announcing a $9 billion share buyback in its earnings release.

One thing conspicuously missing from Facebook’s earnings release, as well as Zuckerberg’s comments, was how much time users are spending on the platform. Last quarter, the chief exec said users “reduced time spent on Facebook by roughly 50 million hours every day” — or about 2.1 minutes on average for each user.

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The company will hold a conference call to discuss its earnings at 5 p.m. ET.

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Facebook Earnings Preview: Three Things to Watch After Cambridge Analytica Scandal


Can Facebook — despite concerns over waning user enthusiasm and its protection of data — post another big quarter, when the social network reports its Q1 earnings on Wednesday afternoon?

The social network’s business looked to be extremely strong back in January, with the company reporting that it hauled in nearly $13 billion during the final months of 2017 — making it the 11th straight quarter Facebook had topped sales estimates. Things were getting boring. Facebook would report earnings, and they’d beat expectations, and that was that. Even after admitting it did little to block Russian trolls from hitting more than 100 million users with disinformation during the 2016 U.S. election, Facebook was still racking up users and ad dollars. Its business was Teflon.

But is that still the case? Following the revelation in March that political firm Cambridge Analytica grabbed data on up to 87 million unwitting users, the company has been publicly skewered. Outcry over how Facebook protects its 2 billion users has forced the company into issuing a mea culpa on seemingly an every-other-day basis. CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of Congress earlier this month, and Facebook has tightened its restrictions on the data apps can access. It has also forced the company to tweak how advertisers can target users — potentially impacting its revenue stream.

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Before the scandal, Facebook had been cruising near all-time highs on Wall Street, trading at $185 a share. It was quickly knocked down to $150 share and has since lingered around $160 a share, as investors wait to get a glimpse of the business’ health.

With the company reporting its first-quarter earnings on Wednesday, we’re about to find out how healthy it is. Here are three things to keep an eye on:

1) Lagging User Growth

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Even before the Cambridge Analytica news, Facebook was grappling with an apathetic audience at home. The company reported it lost 1 million daily active users in the U.S. last quarter –falling from 185 million to 184 million DAUs. It was the first time since Facebook started reporting earnings it had lost domestic users.

Investors gave it a pass, with the company’s global growth still outpacing its U.S. decline. Facebook reported 1.4 billion international DAUs and 2.13 billion monthly active users in January. Still, two straight down quarters would be cause for concern on Wall Street.

A #DeleteFacebook movement gained momentum during the Cambridge Analytica fallout, with celebs from Will Ferrell to Elon Musk dumping their pages. Whether that foreshadowed a widespread exile remains to be seen, though. At the same time, as people were dropping the social network, Facebook’s app was sitting atop the App Store.

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2) Ad Dollars

This goes hand-in-hand with its massive user base — will advertisers start jumping ship? The full impact of Cambridge Analytica, if there is one, might not show itself until Facebook reports its Q2 earnings, but the company’s ad dominance doesn’t appear in danger, yet. Analysts are still projecting Facebook will bring in $11.4 billion in revenue for the quarter.

The reason is simple: Besides Google, Facebook is the only other game in town when it comes to online advertising. Together, both companies bring in 85 percent of all new ad dollars online. “Marketers don’t have realistic options for social ads, and re-marketing is just too powerful and profitable to stop doing it,” Dennis Yu, chief technical officer of digital marketing firm BlitzMetrics, told TheWrap.

And the changes Facebook has made to its targeted ads will have a negligible impact on its sales, according to Yu.”The fact that you can no longer target black people who are 34, gay, like My Little Pony, and work at the Post Office is something people were afraid could happen, but such micro-targeting generated basically zero ad revenue for Facebook,” said Yu.

3) Instagram 

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Instagram could be Facebook’s ace in the hole. If it slips on user growth for the mothership or misses on revenue or earnings, Facebook might look to divert attention by highlighting its picture-sharing app. The company has been quick to point out how fast Instagram is growing — with more than 800 million users now — but hesitant to report how much money it is pulling in from those eyeballs. This could be the time for Facebook to show off how it’s monetizing Instagram, with the app now boasting more than 2 million advertisers.

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