In today’s top stories, BP has reported a stratospheric 2022, with profits more than doubling 2021’s figure. Elsewhere, Korean ecommerce leader Coupang has invested heavily in artificial intelligence (AI) for fulfilment, while big tech firms are rolling up their sleeves for a major ‘AI arms race’. Softbank’s tech-focused Vision Funds saw another quarterly loss, and some 951 mutual funds and ETFs have taken a hit as a result of their exposure to India’s Adani Group’s subsidiaries.
BP’s bumper annual profits
Oil giant BP [BP.L] has followed Shell [SHEL.L] in reporting record profits in 2022. BP made $27.7bn, more than double the $12.8bn reported for 2021. While the group announced it would be spending $8bn more on its energy transition plans between now and 2030, it also said it would be investing a similar amount in its oil and gas business, “targeting short-cycle fast-payback opportunities with lower additional operational emissions.”
Coupang bets on robotic fulfilment
Korean ecommerce leader Coupang [CPNG] has invested $260m in a fulfilment centre powered by artificial intelligence (AI) in a bid to boost its bottom line. The company has been slowly narrowing its net losses since its March 2021 IPO and is hoping that AI can help it swing to a net profit. EJ Choi, a director of fulfilment services at Coupang, told Bloomberg TV that the new centre will improve the “effectiveness of how we operate.”
Big tech’s chatbot showdown
Alphabet [GOOGL] officially announced the launch of its own chatbot, Bard, on Monday, ahead of a Microsoft [MSFT] press event on Tuesday to discuss its OpenAI partnership and plans for integrating ChatGPT into Bing. Bard will be tested by Alphabet employees before launching for the public. Baidu [9888.HK] closed 15% higher after the Chinese search engine announced it will be launching its chatbot in March. “AI arms race begins for big tech,” tweeted Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.
Softbank’s Vision Fund losses continue
Japanese investment giant Softbank [9984.T] has suffered another quarterly loss. Net loss for the October to December period was ￥783.4bn (approximately $5.9bn), versus the ￥205.9bn expected by analysts. The firm’s tech-focused Vision Funds lost ￥660bn ($5bn). “The quarter was disappointing with Vision Fund losses higher than expected on private asset impairments and additional downside from WeWork debt,” Kirk Boodry, an analyst at Redex Research, wrote in an earnings reaction seen by Bloomberg.
Funds caught up in Adani crisis
The stock sell-off that has routed the 10 listed subsidiaries of India’s Adani Group has resulted in 951 mutual funds and ETFs losing a combined $4.2bn, according to CNBC. In analysis of FactSet data, the news channel found that more than 20 funds had exposure to eight or more of Adani’s companies, with these funds losing close to $1m on average. The Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index Fund has suffered the biggest loss, at $411.9m.