Big Tech gets its sexy back

Big players wow Wall Street
Big players wow Wall Street

For all the talk of unicorns and bubbles, is it possible that the sexiest tech companies are boring old Big Tech?

Investors seem to think so: Google, Amazon and Facebook shares are all trading at record levels, and Microsoft is at a 15-year high. If Apple announces better-than-expected iPhone sales next week, it's within striking distance of its all-time high as well.

The smart money is supposed to be in the Ubers, SpaceX's and Xiaomis of the world. Yet -- stunningly -- Big Tech is showing off some startup-like growth and making some big bets on innovative ideas.

Amazon

Amazon's sales grew 23% last quarter, and it swung to a surprise profit for the second-straight quarter. (No one is happier than Jeff Bezos, who became the third-richest person in the United States after Amazon reported its finances Thursday, according to Bloomberg.)

The company's big bets are resulting in huge dividends this year. Amazon's (AMZN) Black-Friday-like Prime Day in July was a big success, single-handedly lifting the company's growth rate 2%. Its cloud business is growing so fast that Amazon said it could one day overtake its retail operations.

The company is also turning heads with its purchase-in-a-click Dash buttons, original Prime Video series, Echo gadgets and six-packs of Kindle tablets.

Consumers are loving it. Amazon said it has 17% more customer accounts now than it did a year ago.

Alphabet

Rockstar chief financial officer Ruth Porat is having quite a start at Alphabet (née Google). Sales rose 13% last quarter, profit soared 45%, and the company even seemed to have found a solution to its mobile woes.

Success in mobile and YouTube ads were Alphabet's (GOOGL) highlights, but the company said six of its products now have more than 1 billion users globally.

Porat & Co. restructured the company earlier this month to give more runway to its biggest bets. Google X's driverless cars and Calico's anti-aging research are now separate companies under the Alphabet umbrella, and investors will start to get a glimpse at their success when Alphabet next reports its finances in January.

Microsoft

This isn't your father's Microsoft (MSFT). Last quarter, the cloud business led the way, soaring 8%, even as Windows and Excel both tumbled.

Xbox Live, Salesforce competitor Dynamics and cloud-based Office 365 all are growing strong. Heck, even Bing posted its first quarterly profit.

If Windows 10 ever turns around the moribund PC industry, watch out. Investors are hopeful -- the stock is at its highest point since before the dot-com bubble burst.

Facebook

Facebook (FB) doesn't report its earnings until November 4, but investors aren't waiting to celebrate. The stock is trading above $100 for the first time ever.

The company just announced a robust new feature that (finally) searches across all public posts, sending a shot across Google's bow. And it keeps finding ways to make money off of its mobile customers, adding shopping and video fields into the News Feed.

Apple

When you have a business like Apple Music with the ability to go from zero to a billion dollars in just five months, you know Apple shouldn't be doubted.

Apple reports its earnings on October 27, and the stock is only 15% off the all-time high. We'll get our first glimpse at how iPhone 6S sales are faring, and Apple certainly has been able to surprise with better-than-expected results in the past.

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