The answer? All of them. For different reasons.
Amazon stole the show because revenues accelerated, sign-ups were amazing, Amazon Prime Day meant Christmas come early, Alexa is Queen and Prime itself is taking over the world.
Alphabet stole the show because Youtube had 70% growth, with 100 million hours watched per day. Youtube. Around forever. And Google Web Services turns out to be accelerating at a pace that makes the bold claims a potential reality. The company has $100 billion in cash, 60% overseas. Come on, tax reform!
Microsoft stole the show because Office 365 and the commercial cloud segment Azure got better and better, and the gross margins for its cloud business were incredible.
Intel stole the show, because the top line was better, the gross margins were strong, and the data center didn't disappoint as it had. There's PC recovery that makes the 14 multiple seem low, especially with the Mobileye acquisition's potential artificial intelligence positives on the horizon.
How is it possible that all of these companies are doing so well?
Data. Most specifically, the explosion of data via the cloud. The cloud unites the strength of Amazon, Alphabet and Microsoft, the big three of web services. Intel's cloud hardware business is being pulled along for the ride. Personal computers, still what Intel does best, are relevant and seemingly more relevant than thought, mostly as an onboard to the web -- something that reminds me of the old Wintel days, as there are 120 million users of the product.
But the crucial component of all of these is that users are changing the pattern of their lives. The cellphone is how people work, live and operate, and the data center is the central nervous system of the new world. The money these firms can make because of this set-up, and because how integral they all are and how important this internet-of-things chain is, was never dreamed of, even a few years ago.
Credit to Amazon for seeing it all coming ahead of everyone else. Credit the other guys for playing catch-up rather than give up, although you have to thank Brian Krzanich at Intel for the late-in-the day pivot from personal computers.
Personally, I am amazed at these incredible companies, none of which is what I would call a start-up. The people who run these companies are so brilliant, their employees the best and the brightest, and their visions are extraordinary.
The only thing I wish is that Facebook (FB) -- which we hold in the Action Alerts PLUS charity portfolio along with Alphabet -- report this same night, so you can see the full panoply of how our lives have changed. And these are the engines behind that change, guiding us, being ahead of us, seeing the playing field so much better, taking a 100 mile an hour fast ball and slowing it to 40 miles an hour before belting it into the upper deck.
My biggest problem in analyzing them? They are such visionaries about where things are going, I just can't keep up.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why their stocks are all going higher. That's why their growth seems almost unconstrained. That's why they continue to take in dollars at a pace they can't simply spend fast enough and yet are prudent stewards of the piles they accumulate.
That's why, even after today's moves, they are all buys.