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Google, Amazon lead a disappointing day in tech earnings

Snap took a beating too, while Twitter actually made lower user numbers seem like a good thing.

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Thursday was one of the busiest earnings days for the tech industry. It was also a rough one. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Thursday was a weird day in tech land as investors tried to make sense of decidedly unexpected quarterly results. 

Twitter started off the morning by reporting that monthly active users -- the primary metric investors use to judge the company's health -- fell from the second quarter, which had already fallen from the previous period. That normally would put investors in a tailspin. But this time CEO Jack Dorsey convinced people that it was actually a good thing since Twitter has been purging fake and spammy accounts while making it harder for automated accounts to sign up. And, oh yes, ad sales rose 29 percent. If Twitter keeps it up, Wall Street may have to start looking at new ways to measure the company's health.

Things got gruesome after the bell, when two of the world's biggest tech companies reported revenue below analysts' expectations. Amazon told investors that sales for the third quarter rose 29 percent, but fell shy of the Street's $57.1 billion estimate. Investors weren't happy with Google's revenue, either, even though profit was a blowout. Shares of both companies fell in after-hours trading.  Like Twitter, Snap continued to see its Snapchat users fade away. 

It was rough going for one of the busiest earnings days for the tech industry at a time when consumers and regulators are casting a more skeptical eye toward them. The other two big tech giants, Apple and Facebook, report their results next week. 

Here's a breakdown of how the four companies did. 

Google

The search giant posted a third-quarter profit that exceeded expectations, but investors wanted to focus on revenue, which just missed Wall Street's financial target. Between the controversy over reports of Project Dragonfly to the poor handling of data that resulted in the company shutting down the Google+ social network, it's been a tough stretch. 

Alphabet tallied $33.74 billion in sales, a 21 percent increase that nevertheless missed analyst estimates of $34.05 billion for the third quarter. Earnings per share were $13.06. Analysts on average had expected $10.40 per share.

Read the full earnings story here.  

Amazon

The retail behemoth likewise posted earnings that topped expectations, but Wall Street was fixated on revenue. Its sales jumped 29 percent to $56.6 billion, but that was still short of the $57.1 billion target. Yes, investors are a finicky bunch. 

Prime Day helped generate $2 billion in revenue, and Amazon is surely looking to repeat its success this holiday. But it faces competition from Walmart and Target, which are also offering two-day shipping options. 

Read the full earnings story here

Twitter

Twitter had the best day. While its user growth continues to fall, it did post revenue of $758 million, above expectations. Its earnings also beat expectations. 

"We made meaningful progress improving the health of the public conversation on Twitter," Dorsey wrote in a letter to investors. "Our most significant progress in Q3 can be seen in sign-up detection and identifying and challenging potentially automated, spammy, or malicious accounts. We've seen a 20% quarter-over-quarter decrease in successful sign-ups since the introduction of these new techniques and believe the majority of this improvement can be attributed to our recent health efforts."

Twitter shares rose 15.5 percent on the results. 

Read the full earnings story here.

Snap

Like Twitter, Snap continues to bleed users, though it only lost 2 million daily active users in the third quarter. Snap's Snapchat app has continued to struggle since it was redesigned to be easier to use. It turned off existing users and failed to pull in new people. But Snap posted better revenue and earnings than expected, so there's that. 

Snap shares fell 6.3 percent to $6.55 in after-hours trading. 

Read the full earnings story here

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