The Mighty Apple

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US markets enjoyed a strong bounce on Friday, finishing a tumultuous week on a high note. The S&P 500 snapped a three-week losing streak, and the Nasdaq firmed by over 3% on Friday to round off a wild week, flat. Pleasingly, the market rally was driven by strong earnings from big tech companies, which couldn't be ignored.

According to Factset, almost a third of the companies on the S&P 500 have now reported their fourth-quarter results, and 78% of them have beaten expectations. Elsewhere in company news, Chinese regulators have approved AMD's $35 billion acquisition of Xilinx (NASDAQ: XLNX ).

On Friday, the JSE All-share closed down 0.07%, the S&P 500 closed up 2.43%, and the Nasdaq rose by 3.13%.

One Thing, From Paul

Apple is by far our most important holding. It's the most widely-held stock, and has the highest aggregate value across client portfolios (over $60 million). So, we await its quarterly earnings reports with great anticipation.

In the last five years, Apple's stock is up 430%, making us all rich. It's grown so much, and is already the world's largest and most profitable company, so one might wonder if it can continue to prosper off such a big base?

You bet it can. The results out last Thursday were the best ever, and the most ever, across all products and geographies. Apple's total revenue for the period rose 11%, year-over-year, to $124 billion. Profits expanded by 20% to an all-time record of $35 billion. Operating margins swelled to 34%, the highest in nearly a decade. As a result, Apple's share price rose by 7% on Friday.

CEO Tim Cook is a genius at supply-chain management, and the group has invested heavily in dedicated production facilities for the last two decades. Accordingly, they were less affected by component shortages than other tech groups.

By the way, Cook has been Apple's CEO since 2011. Over this span, Apple's market cap has jumped from $340 billion to $2.8 trillion.

The backbone of the business remains the iPhone, and high-end customers snapped up the new 13s with advanced memory configurations.

Sales of Apple Mac computers with new home-grown M1 chips surged 25% year over year to pass the $10 billion mark for the first time in the December quarter.

There are now 1.8 billion active devices on the Apple network. Of those, 795 million pay every month for subscription services (storage, music, TV, and others). That's a big business now too!

You literally cannot own too many Apple shares (NASDAQ: AAPL ). Hold the ones that you have now, and add more when you can.

Byron's Beats

If you think it's just cars that are going electric, think again. Rolls-Royce (LON: RR ) and the UK government have produced an all-electric plane that has broken all sorts of speed records. The plane's propulsion battery pack was the most powerful ever assembled, with enough power to charge 7 500 phones.

If you like this kind of thing, you can go watch the flight on YouTube here.

The future is bright for electric mobility.

Bright's Banter

Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) (Google) announced that it will invest about $700 million to buy 1.28% of Bharti Airtel. An additional $300 million will be available to grow the company's infrastructure over the next five years.

Bharti Airtel is India's second-largest mobile-phone operator with operations across the country and some parts of Africa. They're currently making a big play in satellite connectivity to provide internet to places that are hard to reach. This deal is a great entry into Asia's number three economy, which has a population of 1.4 billion people.

India is a key growth market for Google's search engine and advertising business, so the deal makes sense. Before this transaction, Google had invested $4.5 billion for a 7.73% stake in Mukesh Ambani's digital unit called Reliance Jio Platforms. This deal is seen as a way to diversify their bets in India.

Signing Off

Asian markets are up this morning amid a rally in Hong Kong-listed tech companies. South Korea and mainland China are closed for the Lunar New Year, which marks the start of the year of the Water-Tiger.

This week we will see some more big name earnings releases from Alphabet (Google), Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ), Meta Platforms (Facebook (NASDAQ: FB )), Spotify, Ford (NYSE: F ), and more.

US futures are up in early trade, so hopefully another good day for markets lies ahead. The Rand is trading R15.59 against the US Dollar.

It is wet in Johannesburg today. Rainy days should be spent at work with a cup of coffee and a good spreadsheet!

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