Facebook grew revenues by 11% in Q2. This rate is higher than investors expected, but still driven to record lows by the pandemic slowdown. It forecasts 10% growth in Q3.
The company is under very public pressure over its moderation of hateful content, with upwards of 1,000 advertisers joining a month-long boycott, while other online platforms institute tougher policies on hate.
Facebook’s world-beating ad product and 9 million-strong bench of active advertisers means an organised boycott can’t hope to dent its growth. A coalition of advertisers, users, staff and regulators could make it take notice.
Vodafone’s performance this quarter was hit both by COVID and an underlying deterioration in its operational momentum—disappointing given regulatory easing and easier comparables.
Vodafone’s guidance has been more prudent than most going into this pandemic and these results support that cautious stance. Whether it’s a case of Vodafone underperforming or the sector being less resilient than expected will emerge over the coming weeks.
The IPO of Vodafone’s towers business is imperative to maintaining its leverage targets and dividend. It will need to sell a chunky slice of equity and realise a hefty multiple in challenging market conditions. The profile of the asset for sale will help but it all remains very finely balanced.
Even with lockdown tailwinds, there are dampeners for the SVOD boom. The 27 May US launch of direct-to-consumer video service HBO Max did not save its parent company Home Box Office from a 5% year-on-year decrease in revenues in Q2 2020
Mid-term problems include confusing brand positioning for the service and uncertainty surrounding platform carriage—it remains unavailable via Roku or Amazon Fire TV products. Reported viewing trends seem positive but little original programming has cut through yet, while the production shutdown will affect nascent services more than those with established identities
This content push is costly and HBO's profitability may soon be gone. Quarterly operating income shrank 80% to $113 million thanks to a 33% jump in content costs due to the Max expansion