29 July 2021 | Business

Microsoft sees steady cloud growth

Microsoft Corp posted its most profitable quarter on Tuesday, beating Wall Street expectations for revenue and earnings, as PC sales declines stemming from a global chip shortage were more than made up for by a boom in cloud services.

Shares ticked up 0.7% after Microsoft projected that growth in its Azure cloud computing business will continue apace following a quarter in which sales climbed 51%.

Overall revenue rose 21% to US$46.2 billion, beating analysts' consensus by about US$2 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The pandemic-driven shift to remote work has boosted consumer appetite for cloud-based computing, helping companies including Microsoft, Inc's cloud unit and Alphabet Inc's Google Cloud.

Microsoft's "guidance was off-the-charts strong and it shows the cloud growth story in Redmond is hitting its next gear," said Daniel Ives of Wedbush Securities.

Revenue in Microsoft's "Intelligent Cloud" segment rose 30% to US$17.4 billion, with growth in Azure revenues handily surpassing the 43.1% jump projected by analysts, according to consensus data from Visible Alpha. -Nampa/Reuters

Aston SUV helps push up sales

Carmaker Aston Martin reported on Wednesday a 224% increase in sales to its dealers, boosted by its first sport utility vehicle, the DBX, as losses fell in the first half of the year.

The DBX 4x4, which first rolled off the production line just over a year ago, accounted for more than half of its 2 901 vehicles between January and June.

"Building on the success of DBX, our first SUV, we have since delivered two more new vehicles and with more exciting product launches to come we are well positioned for growth," said Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll.

Fictional agent James Bond's car brand of choice has had a tough time since floating in 2018, as it failed to meet expectations and burnt through cash, prompting it to bring in fresh investment from billionaire Stroll last year.

The DBX entered production in July 2020 and has helped the company widen its appeal in a lucrative segment of the market which has proven profitable for its rivals. -Nampa/Reuters

Apple growth forecast slows

Apple Inc said on Tuesday that a global chip shortage that has bit into its ability to sell Macs and iPads will start to affect iPhone production and forecasted slowing revenue growth, sending its shares lower.

Apple executives said revenue for the current fiscal fourth quarter will grow by double-digits but be below the 36.4% growth rate in the just-ended third quarter.

In a conference call with investors, Apple executives also said that while the impact of the chip shortage was less severe than feared in the third quarter, it will get worse in the fourth, extending to iPhone production.

Shares of Apple, whose valuation has more than doubled in about three years to nearly US$2.5 trillion, were down 1.7% to US$144.24 in after-hours trading after the call.

Earlier in the day, Apple reported third-quarter sales and profits that beat analyst expectations as consumers bought premium versions of its 5G iPhones and signed up for its subscription services. -Nampa/Reuters

Wizz Air expect capacity to rise

Hungarian airline Wizz Air said it expected capacity to ramp up to between 90% and 100% of pre-pandemic levels in July and August as summer demand for European travel grows, and any further easing of UK restrictions could provide an added boost.

Britain is set to exempt fully vaccinated travellers from the European Union from quarantine in the coming days according to reports, which would help it catch up with the EU, which has allowed more travel since July 1.

"Continental Europe has been more open for travel and as a result, demand has reacted much quicker and much more robustly for summer," Wizz Air Chief Executive Jozsef Varadi told Reuters yesterday.

Larger competitor EasyJet also said last week that bookings from Europe were outpacing Britain. read more

For the three months to the end of June, Wizz's first quarter period, the company flew 33% of its pre-pandemic capacity, a total of 2.95 million people. Varadi said he could not give guidance beyond August as it was too difficult to predict giving changing restrictions and the risk of new variants. -Nampa/Reuters

Faurecia posted higher first-half sales

French car parts company Faurecia raised its 2021 net cash flow target on Monday as it posted higher first-half sales and profits, led by growth in all its main areas.

Faurecia's interim sales rose 27.9% from a year ago to 7.78 billion euros (US$9.2 billion), while first-half operating income rose to 510 million euros, up from a loss of 100 million euros last year.

Faurecia said it was upgrading its 2021 net cash flow target, and was now forecasting a net cash flow of more than 500 million euros up from a previous target of around 500 million.

It also confirmed its 2021 full-year sales target, namely of reaching sales of at least 16.5 billion euros and for an operating margin of around 7% of sales. Faurecia's upbeat outlook echoed that of its French rival Valeo, which last week also confirmed its 2021 targets as it posted higher first-half sales and profits.

Similarly, to Valeo, Faurecia also expected global automotive production to rebound in coming quarters, despite issues over the supplies of semiconductor chips, which are vital for technologically advanced cars. -Nampa/Reuters