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Big Tech, recovered from pandemic, reports record earnings

America's largest technology companies are thriving despite the economy's woes, according to earnings posted by Google-parent Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Twitter on Thursday.

The companies posted earnings one day after the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter defended themselves before the Senate Commerce Committee over claims they have too much power and stifle conservative opinion.

Alphabet

Google's corporate parent Alphabet returned to robust financial growth. The online search and advertising company saw its first-ever quarterly decline during the three months between April and June, as advertisers pulled back amid the economic slowdown stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company's revenue for the July-September period rose 14% from the same time last year to $46.2 billion. Its profit soared 59% to $11.2 billion, or $16.40 per share. Both figure easily surpassed analyst estimates, lifting Alphabet's stock price by 9% in Thursday's extended trading after the numbers came out.

The rebound, as usual, was propelled by the ad spending that has established Google has one of the world's most proficient moneymaking machines. The U.S. Justice Department is now seeking to throw a monkey wrench into Google's financial gears, filing a lawsuit that accuses the company of abusing its dominance of search to boost its profits and stifle competition.

Amazon

Amazon continued to benefit from shopping trends during the pandemic, reporting record profit and revenue during the third quarter. The company reported net income of $6.3 billion in the three months ending September 30, nearly triple that of the previous-year period.

Earnings per share came to $12.37, about $5 more than Wall Street analysts expected. Revenue soared 37% to $96.1 billion, also beating expectations.

The online shopping giant is also expecting a big end to the year as the holiday shopping season picks up. Amazon said Thursday that it expects fourth-quarter sales to rise between 28% and 38% from a year ago to between $112 billion and $121 billion.

The last three months of the year are always Amazon's biggest, due to the holidays. But this year, Amazon also held its Prime Day sales event during the quarter for the first time after postponing it from July to October due to the pandemic. Prime Day has become one of the company's busiest shopping events of the year.

"We're seeing more customers than ever shopping early for their holiday gifts," said Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos in a written statement. "Which is just one of the signs that this is going to be an unprecedented holiday season."

Facebook

Facebook's third-quarter profit and revenue continued to grow along with its worldwide user base, the company said, but it predicted a "significant amount of uncertainty" looking ahead to 2021.

Facebook earned $7.85 billion, or $2.71 per share, in the July-September period. That's up 29% from $6.09 billion, or $2.12 per share, a year earlier. Revenue grew 22% to $21.22 billion from $17.38 billion.

"Facebook has rebounded nicely from both the early-pandemic advertiser pullout, when marketers pulled ads across all media to redo messaging or conserve funds, and from the July ad boycott," eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said in an email. "Looking ahead to 2021, we expect that more advertisers will take a hard look at their reliance on Facebook and will ask themselves whether the environment is safe for their brands. But for now, heading into the all important holiday season, Facebook's financials look very strong."

The social media giant's average monthly user base was 2.74 billion as of September 30, up 12% from a year earlier.

However, Facebook lost users in the U.S. and Canada, its most lucrative market. Monthly users in the region dropped to 255 million, while daily users dropped to 196 milion.

CBS News' Irina Ivanova contributed reporting.

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