As we reflect on 2017, we will likely remember it as a time of improving economic outlook, geopolitical tensions, natural disasters and an astronomical rise in alternative currencies. When we look at these measures from a corporate perspective, we find these issues highlighted in traditional media are also reflected in company media – i.e.: filings, presentations, earnings calls and press releases issued by companies, large and small.

AlphaSense, a content aggregator and search engine using Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing to search across content and discern search intent, is uniquely positioned to see just how prevalent some of the hottest topics of the year were across company discussions.

Here, we look at company mentions of tax reform, Bitcoin, Amazon, artificial intelligence and hurricanes.

Tax Reform
Search on keyword + Smart Synonyms for tax reform

Smart Synonyms are proprietary to AlphaSense and automatically expand your keywords to include related terms, and exclude false positives.

 

Tax reform was a hot topic in the U.S., and we see the biggest spikes in tax reform mentions occurred during the beginning of the year, and later in November, when the House and Senate raced to pass their tax reform bills in hope of passing legislation by the end of the year, which they ultimately did.

18% of the mentions of tax reform came from financial companies, thought to be some of the biggest beneficiaries of tax reform, while 12% of the mentions were from Industrials with tax and accounting service provider, Wolters Kluwer ($WKL.NL) leading with its press releases on the subject.

Bitcoin
Search on keyword + Smart Synonyms for bitcoin

The trend chart should not be surprising – mentions of the cryptocurrency have risen along with its price. The sectors talking the most about bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrency were Information Technology (33%) firms which largely discussed blockchain technology, and Financials (24%), including exchanges talking about Bitcoin futures.

Of companies with market cap over $500 million, IBM ($IBM) was the company that came up the most in our search for its mentions of blockchain, the underlying technology behind bitcoin, for its broad applications in other (non-financial) areas.

Amazon
Search on keyword: Amazon, excluding ticker: -AMZN

Amazon.com is often mentioned by other companies. After all, it is serves as a competitor, partner, service provider or distributor to a countless number of companies. As Amazon’s reach and share price have increased, so have mentions about the company. This can be seen even more clearly in the 5-year trend chart below.

The industries with the most company documents mentioning Amazon were Information Technology (32%), with companies often citing Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Consumer Discretionary (24%). But it wasn’t a large retailer that made the most mentions of Amazon – it was Genius Brands ($GNUS), a manufacturer of baby goods which relies on Amazon as a distribution partner.

Artificial Intelligence
Search on keyword + Smart Synonyms for artificial intelligence

From automobiles to health care, just about every industry is working on incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into their products or processes. While mentions of AI have grown exponentially over the past few years, we are likely still at the beginnings of the AI boom.

While AI touches so many industries, Information Technology firms still made up nearly half of all AI mentions (45%), with IBM ($IBM) taking the lead in mentions, propelled by discussions of Watson, its AI-driven computer system

Hurricanes
Search on keywords: Hurricane AND (impact OR related OR affect)

2017 was especially brutal in terms of devastation due to hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Maria). Looking at the 1-year trend chart, we instantly see that there was a ramp up in hurricane mentions in company documents and transcripts in in the fall, soon after the hurricanes hit. The jump in the spring was from discussions about Hurricane Matthew, the storm that devastated Haiti and hit the Southeastern U.S. in 2016.

But the most mentions of hurricane impact didn’t come from retailers commenting on sales, it came from Financials, largely insurance companies discussing claims, premiums and financial implications.

While 2018 is just getting underway, we can already guess what some of the hot topics this year will be: blizzards, midterm elections, inflation and perhaps facial recognition technology. We will continue to follow these and other hot topics throughout the year.

Search Date: (1/1/17-12/13/17)
Sources: Event Transcripts, Company Presentations, Press Releases (excluding private company), Major SEC Filings, Global Filings – Annual & Interim Reports

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