San Francisco (AFP)

Silicon Valley delivered a copy riddled with excellent financial results for the first quarter, and Amazon's, released Thursday, did not disappoint investors either, after a year of pandemic that has propelled digital devices and services. as an essential product for consumers.

The global leader in e-commerce and cloud (remote computing) more than tripled its net profit, to $ 8.1 billion for the January-March period.

It also far exceeded its own expectations and those of the market with a turnover of 108.5 billion dollars, up 44% year on year, while it had already recorded strong growth in the first quarter of 2020.

"This is an acceleration from the growth of all of last year, and another indication that the 2020 momentum is not weakening," commented Nicole Perrin, analyst at eMarketer.

The Seattle group's performance is driven by sales on its e-commerce platform, particularly in North America, but also by business services that use its marketplace ($ 24 billion, + 64%) and by advertising revenue ($ 7 billion, + 77%).

AWS, its cloud division (remote computing), is no exception, with sales of 13.5 billion in the first quarter, up 32% year on year.

"Large tech companies are in the right place at the right time. The Covid-19 has accelerated the digital transformation in education, health, teleworking and e-commerce, and improved the profitability of these firms," ​​said noted Darrell West, a researcher at the Center for Technological Innovation at the Brookings Institution.

- Always more dominant -

Whether capitalizing on the time people spent online, on their transactions or purchases of electronic devices, the tech giants made exuberant profits in early 2021, while the traditional economy suffered from travel restrictions and pandemic-related activities.

Alphabet, parent company of Google, achieved 55.31 billion in turnover from January to March, or 34% more than a year ago.

Since last spring, the search engine and its neighbor Facebook have invested heavily in tools and platforms to facilitate online transactions, and encourage households and merchants to use their services, already very popular for entertainment or research. information.

They thus consolidated their hold on the global digital advertising market.

According to research firm eMarketer, Facebook is on track to exceed $ 100 billion in net advertising revenue for the first time in 2021, and thus retain the second position in terms of global market share (23.7%), behind Google (28.6%), and far ahead of Amazon (5.8%).

"Our activities have performed better than what we had expected," admitted Wednesday Mark Zuckerberg, the boss of the social network, during a conference to analysts.

Over the period from January to March, Facebook and Apple saw their net profits double, to $ 9.5 billion for the social network, and 23.6 billion for the Apple brand.

The Cupertino company exploded its sales of iPhone (+ 66%), iPad tablets (+ 79%) and Mac computers (+ 70%).

- "Backfire" -

"We believe this past quarter will ultimately be the first step on Apple's path to a $ 3 trillion market cap next year," commented analyst Dan Ives of Wedbush.

Because the habits taken during the pandemic will undoubtedly die hard.

Neither companies nor experts seem to fear a massive return to pre-Covid consumption patterns anymore.

Amazon expects a turnover of between 110 and 116 billion dollars for the current quarter, that is to say 24 to 30% more over one year, if the "Prime Day", its day of sales, is held well between April and June.

The tendencies of regulation on the part of Europe and also of Washington, with the democratic government of Joe Biden, appear as the only possible clouds on the horizon of the west coast of the United States, where the headquarters of the Gafam are located. .

Despite the now essential nature of their services, "the backlash threatens the industry because people worry about data privacy and security," said Darrell West.

Facebook and Google are already facing lawsuits from US authorities on the competition law front, and Apple and Amazon are targeted by similar investigations.

© 2021 AFP