Technology Roundup – Apple tops Q4 global smartphone sales on iPhone 12 strength; JPMorgan sees fintech-bank clash as real post-COVID story, not Bitcoin
Apple tops Q4 global smartphone sales on iPhone 12 strength
Worldwide smartphone sales dropped 5.4% on the year in Q4 and fell 12.5% for full year 2020, according to new Gartner data.
“The sales of more 5G smartphones and lower-to-mid-tier smartphones minimized the market decline in the fourth quarter of 2020,” says Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. “Even as consumers remained cautious in their spending and held off on some discretionary purchases, 5G smartphones and pro-camera features encouraged some end users to purchase new smartphones or upgrade their current smartphones in the quarter.”
The success of the 5G iPhone 12 lineup pushed Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to the top spot of global smartphone vendors in Q4, pushing ahead of Samsung (OTC:SSNNF,OTC:SSNLF) and taking the lead for the first time since Q4 2016.
For the quarter, Apple sold about 80M units for a 20.8% market share and 14.9% Y/Y growth. Samsung sold a little over 62M units for a 16.2% market share and 11.8% decline on the year.
Samsung took the top spot for the year, selling 253M units for an 18.8% share and 14.6% decline. Apple took second with nearly 200M units, a 14.8% share, and 3.3% growth. Apple and Xiaomi were the only two companies in the top five to post growth in 2020.
For 2021, Gartner expects the emergence of lower-end 5G smartphones to drive sales growth.
JPMorgan sees fintech-bank clash as real post-COVID story, not Bitcoin
JPMorgan strategists, led by Chair of Global Research Joyce Chang, call the recent surge in Bitcoin “an economic side show,” contending that the real post-COVID-19 story is “the rise in digital finance.”
Competition between banks and fintech gathers steam with Big Tech “the most potent digital platforms due to their access to customer data,” according to the strategists’ report dated Feb. 18.
Still, traditional banks could prevail in digital banking due to their advantages in deposit franchise, risk management, and regulation.
“‘Co-opetition’ between ‘Fin’ and ‘Tech’ players lies ahead, with banks stepping up investment to narrow the technology gap, and the battle between U.S. banks and non-bank fintech is also playing out on the regulatory front.”
And while they call Bitcoin’s rise a side show, the crypto asset is “here to stay” as an alternative currency, they said. They estimate that Bitcoin prices would have to climb to $146K for the market cap to equal total private sector investment in gold via ETFs or bars and coins.
The report points out that financial innovation is outpacing regulation, creating an uneven playing field, benefiting fintechs as it’s easier and cheaper for them to offer similar products and services.
Still, a return to antitrust is a risk, primarily for Big Tech: “Future regulation will focus on who is permissioned to use Global Stablecoin arrangements and gain access to the Federal Reserve’s payments system as well as the appropriate level of oversight, supervision and regulation.”
An interesting point: “Central banks representing 20% of the world’s population are likely to issue Central Bank Digital Currencies in the next three years, but transformative impact is unclear given restrictions based on jurisdiction.”
ZoomInfo jumps 11% as revenues rise 50%; company shuffles leadership
ZoomInfo Technologies (NASDAQ:ZI) is up 11% after hours following a beat on top and bottom lines in Q4 earnings where revenues jumped more than 50%, wrapping a year where full-year revenues rose 62%.
Sales jumped to $139.7M, including $2M from acquisitions that closed in the fourth quarter.
Operating income likewise jumped 54% to $29.6M on a GAAP basis; adjust4ed operating income rose 34% to $63.4M, with a margin of 45%.
It’s also made a few leadership changes. The company has promoted Chris Hays to chief operating officer, and Hila Nir to chief product officer, and it’s hired Shane Murphy-Reuter as chief marketing officer.
Cash flow from operations was $66.8M (up 293%), and unlevered free cash flow was $76.6M (up 84%).
For Q1, it’s guiding to EPS of $0.10-$0.11 (vs. consensus for $0.10) and revenue of $144M-$146M (above expectations for $135.7M).
For the full year, it’s forecasting EPS of $0.47-$0.49 (vs. consensus for $0.49) and revenue of $645M-$655M (above expectations for $602.1M).