Pakistan election, US tech results, Ryanair strike threat
Josh de la Mare has the key stories the FT will be watching this week, including: tech results from Alphabet, owners of Google, and Facebook; fraught elections in Pakistan; and Ryanair's crunch week of results and the threat of industrial action.
Studio filmed by Rod Fitzgerald and Petros Gioumpasis. Produced by Josh de la Mare and Simon Greaves.
Here are the top stories we'll be watching this week.
Earnings at Facebook and Google are expected to power ahead, despite growing regulatory pressure. In the final days before elections in Pakistan, corruption and the role of the military have become a major focus. It's crunch time for the world's largest food and drinks company, Nestle, which announces half-year results. And Ryanair faces possible strike action across Europe.
First, to Silicon Valley, where Facebook and Google's parent, Alphabet, the two companies that dominate digital advertising, are expected to show strong growth when they report earnings this week, despite regulatory threats. Google is set to shrug off last week's record anti-trust fine from Brussels. The FT's US west coast editor, Richard Waters, has more.
There's a really powerful tension, at the moment, between the threat of regulation at Google and Facebook, and the very strong drive that has been in that business growth this year. The stock market has been trying to work out what the implications of greater regulation are, in terms of higher cost, which we're already seeing at Facebook, or limits on their business. Or potentially, even break ups.
And it's led to some real volatility in the share prices. But going into earnings this week, both companies are hitting a record high. The appetising businesses are on a roll, and it hasn't been affected by any of the data privacy scandals or worries. Video is very much the product behind both companies this year. Instagram, for Facebook, is on a roll. And YouTube, at Google, is not experiencing the same brand safety issues that advertisers were worried about a year ago.
So, for this week, at least, we should see some respite from the worries. But it doesn't mean they're going away.
Pakistan goes to the polls on Wednesday, with analysts predicting a close fight between the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, led by the country's charismatic former cricket captain, Imran Khan, who's hopeful of victory.
Well, I'm quietly confident that this time, we will do it. It's the best prepared my party has been, in terms of, we've got good candidates. And then, we have a good manifesto. So I feel we are prepared. But then, we can only try our best.
I'm hopeful. I'm confident. But still, the match is not over until the last ball is balled.
Presuming the vote goes ahead as planned, it will be Pakistan's second ever transition from one civilian administration to another. But workers and candidates for the PMLN say they've come under pressure from the country's powerful army, which some allege is behind the gaoling of Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister and party leader.
If the PTR leader, Mr Khan, does win, it will be a rare victory for a candidate who comes from outside the country two major dynasties, the Sharifs and the Bhuttos. He has projected himself on the campaign trail as a fighter against corruption, willing to take on the country's established political elite. But his opponents say he has been supported and funded by the armed forces.
The half-year results of Nestle, on Thursday, will reveal the pressures on the world's largest food and drinks company to boost its performance, as the global food industry reels from rapid changes in consumer tastes, and a wave of mergers and acquisitions. The FT's consumer industries editor, Scheherezade Daneshkhu, has this analysis.
Nestle is the world's biggest food company. And yet, despite its size, it's found that its revenues have been slowing, in terms of growth. And that's partly because, like a lot of traditional companies in the sector, its sales have come under pressure by newer and nimbler companies that have sprung up in some of the key areas in which Nestle operates, namely coffee and chocolate.
So these results are important, because Nestle has also come under pressure from an activist shareholder, called Third Point, which wants Nestle to do more, to move faster, become more profitable, more quickly. So these results will be important for Mark Schneider, the chief executive, to show that his own strategy is on course, and that he can deliver results, but in his own time frame, rather than the more accelerated time frame that Third Point is demanding.
And finally, low-cost European airline Ryanair releases its first quarter results on Monday, as it faces a threat of industrial action, following a strike by its Irish pilots union earlier in July. Last year, the airline agreed to recognise its unions, following a resourcing disaster in the autumn. But agreements are proving hard to come by, with strikes threatened across Europe.
That's what the weak head looks like from the Financial Times in London.