Posts with «investment & company information» label

Google to invest up to $1 billion in India's second biggest carrier

After investing $4.5 billion in India's largest carrier Jio, Google is now putting up to $1 billion in Airtel, the second largest mobile operator, Airtel announced. The partnership is focusing on "affordable access to smartphones" and is part of Google's promised $10 billion investment in the country. "Our commercial and equity investment in Airtel is a continuation of our Google for India Digitization Fund's efforts to increase access to smartphones," Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement. 

The deal includes a $700 million investment to acquire a 1.28 percent ownership in Airtel, with another $300 million earmarked for potential commercial agreements. Specifically, Airtel and Google will work to expand on Airtel's Android device lineup via "innovative affordability programs." The companies didn't specify what those programs would entail, however.

Airtel also said that it would look at "larger strategic goals" with Google around 5G network standards, cloud ecosystems and more. "With our future ready network, digital platforms, last mile distribution and payments ecosystem, we look forward to working closely with Google to increase the depth and breadth of India’s digital ecosystem," said Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal. 

Google previously collaborated with Jio on the low-cost $87 JioPhone Next smartphone that went on sale on November 4th price following a delay due to the global chip shortage. Jio has also received investment from Facebook and other companies. 

With a huge number of potential internet users, Alphabet, Facebook parent Meta and others have looked to India to boost growth. Both tech giants have worked to bring internet connectivity to India, Alphabet with Project Loon and Meta via Free Basics, which was later banned in India. 

Apple brought in a record-breaking $123.9 billion in revenue, despite supply constraints

It's been a great quarter for Apple. The company just dropped its earnings report for the first quarter of 2022 (which for Apple ended December 25, 2021), and it's broken revenue records all across the board. Not only is its overall revenue at an all-time high of $123.9 billion, it's also made more money selling iPhones, Macs and wearables than ever before. This time last year, the company reported a revenue of $111 billion, which itself was a new record then. Just last quarter, too, it made all kinds of money selling Macs, even without the release of new Macbooks at that time.

Apple's revenue from iPhones of $71.6 billion this year, despite global supply constraints, is a notable jump from $65.6 billion last year. Driven by its transition to its own M1 silicon, Mac revenues also rose by more than $2 billion from the year before, hitting a record $10.9 billion. Chief financial officer Luca Maestri said on the company's earnings call that the last six quarters were "the best six quarters ever for Mac," and that M1-powered devices made up the vast majority of sales, thanks to a "record number of upgraders."

Sales of iPads made Apple $7.2 billion this year, while "Wearables, Home and Accessories" brought in $14.7 billion. That includes things like the Apple Watch, AirPods and HomePods. Both categories of products also broke revenue records. Apple's services also contributed to its overall revenue, with products like TV+ and Fitness+ raking in a total of $19.5 billion — an increase of 24 percent from last year. Maestri noted that paid subscriptions continue to grow, with recent developments in Fitness+, Arcade and Apple Music contributing to the growth.

Investors will be happy to know that Apple's board of directors have declared "a cash dividend of 22 cents per share of common stock, payable on February 10th 2022."

Peacock has 9 million subscribers

NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service ended last year with 9 million paid subscribers. Comcast, the streamer’s parent company, shared the milestone during its Q4 2021 earnings call. The announcement marks the first time either company has disclosed just how many people pay for Peacock.

In a call with analysts, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said the streaming service has approximately 24.5 million monthly active users, reports Variety. Of those who pay for Peacock, the majority opt for the platform’s $5 ad-supported tier. When you include ads, Roberts said the company generates close to $10 in average revenue per user who subscribes to the service.

In 2022, Comcast CFO Mike Cavanagh said the company plans to spend $3 billion on content for Peacock, doubling its current investment. Moving forward, Comcast could spend as much as $5 billion annually building out Peacock’s media library “over the next couple of years.” Some of that money will come from the company’s linear TV platforms, with Roberts telling analysts Comcast is “committed to reallocating resources and increasing investment” in Peacock due to the platform’s growth.

In practice, Comcast and NBCUniversal are likely to spend at least some of that money on reclaiming content that has ended up on other streaming platforms, including Disney’s Hulu. “Much of our strong NBC content premieres on Hulu, over time we’d like to bring that back to Peacock,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said. The company previously paid $500 million to get The Office back from Netflix.

Samsung posts record revenue but reveals profit decline for Q4 2021

Samsung's consolidated revenue for the fourth quarter of 2021 reached 76.57 trillion Korean won (US$63.7 billion), the tech giant has revealed in its latest earnings report. That's a quarterly record high for the company, which says that its revenue growth for the period was driven mainly by the expanded sales of its smartphones, TVs and home appliances. 

Its operating profit of KRW 13.87 trillion (US$11.5 billion) in the quarter ending December 31st, 2021 was lower than the previous quarter's, however, due to the bonuses that it doled out to employees for the season. The company has also reported a new historic revenue high of KRW 279.6 trillion (U$232.5 billion) for all of 2021, along with KRW 51.63 trillion (US$42.9 billion) in operating profits. 

Samsung's memory business, which is typically its biggest moneymaker, has experienced a decline in revenue from the previous quarter due to the global supply chain crisis and a slight drop in prices. Further, while demand for memory products remained strong, the company says it didn't push for sales as aggressively as it usually does after considering its inventory levels and the market outlook. The memory division posted a consolidated revenue of KRW 26.01 trillion (US$21.6 billion) and an operating profit of KRW 8.84 trillion (US$7.35 billion) for the fourth quarter of 2021. In the third quarter, it posted KRW 26.41 trillion (US$21.96 billion) in consolidated revenue and KRW 10.06 trillion (US$8.36 billion) in operating profit. 

Samsung's combined mobile and consumer electronics business, now called Mobile eXperience or MX, has posted KRW 28.95 trillion (US$24 billion) in consolidated revenue and KRW 2.66 trillion (US$2.2 billion) in operating profit. The slight increase in revenue was mainly due to the strong sales of its premium smartphones, namely its foldables and its Galaxy S series devices, as well as its PCs, tablets and wearables during the holiday season. Like in the previous quarter, though, the division's profitability was impacted by Samsung's marketing efforts for its foldables and for the launch of its upcoming models this year. 

Meanwhile, the company's mobile panel business saw an increase in earnings due to solid demand for new smartphones. Losses became larger for Samsung's large panel business, though, due to a decline in pricing for LCDs and the initial costs related to its Quantum Dot displays. Samsung also saw strong sales for its premium and lifestyle TVs, but its visual display business recorded a lower operating profit quarter-on-quarter because of rising material and logistics costs.

For 2022, Samsung expects growth in its memory business from higher server demand and in its display panel business from new smartphone releases. However, the company made it clear in its report that it also expects COVID-related supply issues and other problems to persist and affect its operations. Despite those constraints, it believes its MX business will still deliver revenue and profit growth led by its new flagships and by higher sales of its mass market 5G smartphones. Samsung has an Unpacked event scheduled on February 9th, where it will unveil the next S-series flagship to succeed the Galaxy S21 lineup.

Microsoft's profits jump by 21 percent thanks to Office and the cloud

Microsoft's overall business is still going strong, even though it's not seeing the shockingly huge profit growth it saw last year. In its Q2 earnings report today, company reported revenue of $51.7 billion (up 20 percent from last year) with profits of $18.8 billion (up 21 percent). As usual, Microsoft has its unstoppable cloud business to thank, as well as a decent showing from its PC group, Office and other business products. Its Intelligent Cloud business grew by 26 percent, reaching $18.3 billion, while its Productivity and Business group saw revenues increase by 19 percent to reach $15.9 billion.

There weren't any true major weak links this quarter — even Surface revenue, which Microsoft previously expected to dip a bit, grew by 8 percent thanks to strong Surface Laptop sales. Windows OEM revenues also increased by 25 percent, not a huge surprise since the overall PC industry is still going strong. Where the PC business goes, Microsoft's revenues will follow, after all. When it comes to Office, the company says its consumer revenue increased by 15 percent, and that it has reached 56.4 million Microsoft 365 subscribers.

While Microsoft's earnings reports have basically looked the same over the last few years — Cloud good! Revenues grow! — the company's numbers will look a bit different once it finalizes its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard in 2023. At the very least, we'll get to see how much the new Microsoft Gaming division actually helps (or hurts) Microsoft's overall business.

GM is building EV production and battery factories in Michigan

GM and LG are building a third Ultium factory in the US. The $2.6 billion plant in Lansing, Michigan will make batteries for GM’s electric vehicles.

Ultium Cells, a joint venture between the companies, expects to create 1,700 manufacturing jobs at the plant, which is projected to open in late 2024. At full production, Ultium expects the factory to have a battery cell capacity of 50 gigawatt hours, and it will be able to adapt to advancements in materials and tech. Construction is underway on Ultium's other battery manufacturing sites in Tennessee and Ohio.

Ultium's cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside battery packs, which allows GM to customize the layout for each vehicle design. Energy options range between 50kWh and 200kWh. GM says Ultium system may deliver a range of 450 miles or more on a single charge and accelerate from zero to 60MPH in three seconds. The company is designing Ultium-powered EVs with fast charging in mind — most of them will have 400-volt battery packs and up to 200 kW fast charging. Electric trucks, meanwhile, will have 800-volt packs with 350kW charging.

The Ultium factory forms part of a new $7 billion investment by GM (the company's largest single outlay to date) in four Michigan sites. The automaker is spending $4 billion to convert a plant in Orion Township, which will become its second US manufacturing location for the Chevrolet Silverado EV and electric GMC Sierra.

Conversion work is underway, and GM expects to start making the electric trucks at the plant in 2024. It expects to retain around 1,000 current jobs and add more than 2,350. Production of the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV will continue during the transition. The company projects that it will convert half of its North American assembly capacity to EV production by 2030.

GM is aiming to make more than a million EVs in the US per year by the end of 2025, and today's investment announcement forms a key part of that. The company's also spending more than $510 million to increase production at two sites in the Lansing area, one of which is building the next-gen Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave.

Report suggests NVIDIA is preparing to walk away from its ARM acquisition

NVIDIA has reportedly made little to no progress in gaining regulatory approval for its $40 billion purchase of ARM and is privately preparing to abandon the deal, according to Bloomberg's sources. Meanwhile, current ARM owner SoftBank is reportedly advancing a program to take ARM public as an alternative to the acquisition, said another person familiar with the matter.

NVIDIA announced the deal in September 2020, with CEO Jensen Huang proclaiming it would "create a company fabulously positioned for the age of AI." ARM's designs are used under license almost universally in smartphones and other mobile devices by companies like Apple, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Samsung, Intel and Amazon. 

A backlash began soon after the announcement. The UK, where ARM is based, launched an antitrust investigation into the acquisition in January 2021, and another security probe last November. In the US, the FTC recently sued to block the purchase over concerns it would "stifle" competition in industries like data centers and car manufacturing. China would also reportedly block the transaction if other regulators don't, Bloomberg's sources say. 

We continue to hold the views expressed in detail in our latest regulatory filings — that this transaction provides an opportunity to accelerate Arm and boost competition and innovation.

Companies like Intel, Amazon and Microsoft have reportedly given regulators enough information to kill the deal, the sources say. They previously argued that NVIDIA can't preserve ARM's independence because it's an ARM client itself. As such, it could also potentially become both a supplier and competitor to ARM licensees. 

Despite the stiff headwinds, both companies maintain that they're still pushing forward. "We continue to hold the views... that this transaction provides an opportunity to accelerate ARM and boost competition and innovation," NVIDIA spokesman Bob Sherbin told Bloomberg. "We remain hopeful that the transaction will be approved," a SoftBank spokesperson added in a statement.

Despite the latter comment, factions at Softbank are reportedly pushing for an ARM IPO as an alternative to the acquisition, particularly while the semiconductor industry is so hot. Others in the company want to continue pursuing the transaction given that NVIDIA's stock price has nearly doubled since it was announced, effectively increasing the transaction price.

The initial agreement expires on September 13th, 2022, but will automatically renew if approvals take longer. NVIDIA predicted that the transaction would close in approximately 18 months — a deadline that now seems unrealistic.

Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion

Microsoft just made one of the largest-ever bids for a game studio. The company has announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard for $95 per share, valuing the all-cash deal at an enormous $68.7 billion. The deal would make the combined entity the "third-largest" game company by revenue, according to Microsoft, and would put titles like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft under the company's wing. Microsoft plans to add Activision Blizzard games to Game Pass as part of the deal.


Waymo has its first commercial autonomous trucking customer

Last June, Alphabet’s self-driving unit worked with J.B. Hunt, a trucking and logistics company, to test its Waymo Via technology in Texas. On Friday, the two announced they’re forming a strategic partnership with the hope of deploying a fully autonomous trucking operation within the state sometime in the next few years. In the immediate future, Waymo and J.B. Hunt say they plan to hold multiple pilots involving Waymo Via. That’s the Waymo Driver-powered unit the Alphabet subsidiary developed for Class 8 trucks. They also plan to complete additional market studies.

The expanded partnership follows a successful first pilot in which Waymo and J.B Hunt said they moved 862,179 lbs of freight without their test trucks speeding or ending up in any accidents. The conclusion they drew at the time was that Waymo Driver was ready to deliver freight on-time and safely. Waymo is just one of a handful of companies working on autonomous trucking technology. A few months before the company completed its June pilot with J.B. Hunt, Aurora, the startup that acquired Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, announced it was working with Volvo to build fully autonomous semi trucks that would carry cargo across North America.

Ford's e-scooter company Spin is leaving markets and laying off staff

Spin, the e-scooter-sharing startup Ford acquired back in 2018, is shifting its focus in its quest to profitability and is exiting nearly all open permit markets globally as a result. In a post by company CEO Ben Bear, he said Spin has started winding down its operations in a few markets in the US, as well as in the entirety of Germany and Portugal. The company will also shut down its operations in Spain, which could happen sometime in February 22nd.

Open permit markets are places where multiple scooter companies can run businesses, with no caps on fleet sizes. Bear said they "create an uncertain operating environment" with "race to the bottom pricing." It doesn't sound like Spin has been doing well in those markets — Bear wrote that Spin hasn't been able to offer "the type of reliable high quality service [it] prides [itself] on to its riders and city partners" in those locations — so it has decided to take another path instead. 

Spin expanded its operations after it was acquired by Ford to a bunch of cities in the US and around the world. In 2021, it deployed a new scooter model that's more durable than its previous ones and teamed up with Google to show users the nearest e-bike or e-scooter on Maps. Unfortunately, those weren't enough to prevent this restructuring.

Going forward, Spin will focus on limited vendor markets in the US, Canada and the UK. Specifically, in places where cities and campuses "select partners through a competitive procurement process." Apparently, Spin gets double the revenue in those types of places compared to locations with a free-for-all market. Shifting its focus to those places makes sense in that case, but shutting down locations unfortunately also means that the company is letting personnel go: Its move will affect a quarter of its staff, who'll get severance packages and a stipend.