Saturday, June 22, 2024

4 tech giants accounted for more than 16% of Fortune 500 earnings—even in a down year

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The tech sector had a tough year in 2022. With interest rates soaring amid rising inflation, the economy slowed and many tech companies that borrowed heavily to invest in their growth faced increased costs. As a result, they sought to reduce their expenses, including by slashing staff, leading more than 153,000 tech workers to lose their jobs last year, according to data from In the stock market, the tech-heavy Nasdaq took a beating as well, falling over 30% as investors sought safer assets amid Wall Street’s consistent recession predictions. 

But despite the dark headlines, falling stock prices, and job cuts, big tech companies still dominated the 69th annual Fortune 500 list. The top 10 Fortune 500 companies included three big tech firms, even as the wider sector faced one of its worst years in the past decade.

On top of that, just four big tech companies—Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Meta Platforms—were able to rake in $255.7 billion in profits in 2022, or roughly 16.4% of the Fortune 500’s total earnings for the year. Apple pulled in $99.8 billion, while Microsoft notched $72.7 billion, and Alphabet and Meta Platforms earned $59.97 billion and $23.2 billion, respectively. 

There’s one big tech firm that’s been left out here, of course—Amazon. The e-commerce giant actually lost $2.7 billion in fiscal year 2022, compared with $33.3 billion in profits for 2021.

After the work-from-home trend and pandemic lockdowns boosted Amazon’s earnings in 2020 and 2021, CEO Andy Jassy told investors in February of this year that the company “just had more capacity than we needed” in 2022, as some shoppers returned to physical stores. Some unexpected weakness in the firm’s cloud unit, along with a $12.7 billion paper loss from an investment in electric-car maker Rivian—whose stock cratered 81% in 2022—also took a toll on the company.

If Amazon hadn’t experienced these business challenges and the one-off loss on Rivian, big tech firms’ earnings would have accounted for an even higher percentage of total Fortune 500 earnings.

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