Three of the four tech giants in the crosshairs of federal regulators are approaching the touchy topic differently in quarterly earnings reports as they and investors brace for a broad antitrust review.
Alphabet Inc. addressed the Justice Department’s emerging investigation into whether big tech is stifling competition in a filing around its second-quarter results, but did not say if it is one of the companies under scrutiny.
“The online technology industry and our company have received increased regulatory scrutiny in recent months,” Alphabet GOOG, +10.37% GOOGL, +10.24% disclosed in the risk factors section of its 10-Q filing. “In July 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it will begin an antitrust review of market-leading online platforms. We continue to engage with the DOJ, the EC, and other regulators around the world regarding competition matters.”
Google executives didn’t touch on the topic until nearly the end of a 58-minute conference call Thursday, when CEO Sundar Pichai spoke generally about regulatory scrutiny. “It’s not new to us. We have participated in these processes before,” he said.
The search-engine powerhouse is also expected to soon pay a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over charges that YouTube violated laws governing the use of children’s data.
Alphabet shares were up 10% after the companyreported a steep jump in revenue and earnings.
Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -1.73% did not mention the Justice Department review at all in its filing following its second-quarter report Thursday. A section under risk factors titled, “Government Regulation Is Evolving and Unfavorable Changes Could Harm Our Business,” discussed the topic in general but did not mention a specific investigation.
The Justice Department investigation did not come up during Amazon’s conference call. Shares of the company dipped when it disclosed its run of record-high earnings came to an end.
On Wednesday, Facebook FB, -0.64%, which has taken as much heat as any tech company for how it handles data, was more forthright. It mentioned Justice Department and FTC investigations in a press release announcing its second-quarter results. Facebook reached a record $5 billion settlement with the FTC for privacy missteps.
“The online technology industry and our company have received increased regulatory scrutiny in the past quarter,” Facebook said in the release after the market closed. “In June 2019, we were informed by the FTC that it had opened an antitrust investigation of our company. In addition, in July 2019, the Department of Justice announced that it will begin an antitrust review of market-leading online platforms.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did not specifically address antitrust issues but told analysts during a conference call, “with the guidance and expectations from regulators, we have a clearer path forward.”
Facebook shares initially popped Wednesday after the company announced better-than-expected results before dropping during a conference call over long-term revenue projections.
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