Nowadays it feel like I can't go 10 minutes without seeing something about AI. Through the past few years it's grown to become the biggest hype cycle in modern history; this generation's internet bubble.

It's like the avocado of 'value-add' buzzwords -- slap it on top of anything and it will go for more.

Everywhere you look you will find it. AI toothbrushes, AI toasters, AI companions, AI garden hoses. (my new favorite past time is Googling "AI + [random object]" btw), literally everywhere.

Of course all this excitement has made a profound impact on the stock market as well. AI poster-child Nvidia now has a market cap greater than $3T and will likely be the largest stock in the world by the end of this month; the stock is up more than 1,000%+ since 2020, along with many other AI-adjacent tickers.

In my opinion the stock market has become the pinnacle of 'AI signaling' in 2024.

The running joke now is that you can predict the post-earnings % change of a big tech stock just based on the number of times they mention AI on their earnings call. And honestly it seems like many of the companies believe this themselves.

So naturally we decided to do some research for ourselves. How often are companies *actually mentioning* AI? Here's a glimpse:


AI Mentions on Earnings Calls

We went back over the last 4 years-worth of earnings transcripts for the top 20 largest companies in the S&P 500 and counted how many times each of them brought up AI (explicitly, the terms "AI" or "artificial intelligence").

As you'd expect, for most companies the word AI wasn't even a past of the lexicon 4 years ago. Now in 2024 the word has worked its way into most earnings calls in some way or another.

The interesting thing is how the AI-signaling has evolved overall and across major companies through the past few years. Some have embraced it fully, on track to say the word 1,000 times per earnings call by 2030. Others, not as much.

After looking through the data and reflecting for a bit, here's my top few takeaways for the corporate AI-signaling trend of 2024:

meta king

1. Meta is the New King of 'AI signaling'

For the first time in recent memory, it was not Nvidia who mentioned the keyword 'AI' the most on this quarter's earnings call, it was none other than: Meta. Zuck and company mentioned AI 93 times this quarter, compared to 85 from Nvidia and 77 from Alphabet.

While the all-time record still belongs to Nvidia (1,061 career AI mentions on earnings calls) along with the single game record (151 mentions on their Q4 2023 call alone), Meta is clearly making a point to stay a part of the AI conversation as of lately, and for good reason. The company has made huge leaps in the recent development of its open-source LLama models, and has recently incorporated AI search into all of its apps (Facebook, Instagram, etc.). Google has also been on the rise in terms of AI mentions as well.

What's with Nvidia's recent decline in mentions? Perhaps the word has become so ubiquitous with Nvidia that they don't even feel the need to mention it anymore.

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2. Overall, AI Mentions are Declining

Perhaps surprisingly, the total number of times AI has been mentioned across mega tech earnings calls has actually declined overall through the past 2 quarters.

After peaking in Q4 2023 with 461 total 'AI mentions' from the top 20 stocks in the S&P 500, we saw just 397 mentions in Q1 2024 and 454 in Q2 2024.

Now keep in mind, Nvidia alone has account for roughly 25% of all these mentions, so the decline overall can be partially attributed to a decline in mentions from Nvidia alone. But even excluding Nvidia we also see a decline in mentions from the other 19 companies overall.

This decline in AI earnings mentions overall may be an indication that general AI hype has already peaked. The hype is either dying, or the word AI has become so ubiquitous that it's not worth mentioning as often.

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3. Old Dogs and Tricks

On the other end of the spectrum from the likes of Nvidia, Meta, and Microsoft, there are some companies who behave like they're never even heard of AI. Companies like Costco, Home Depot, and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway have mentioned AI a combined total of twice over their past 48 collective earnings calls.

(for the record, those two mentions were from Costco's report last quarter, when an analyst asked why they hadn't mentioned AI yet).

I think the dichotomy here is beautiful. The count of AI mentions is like a razor dividing companies based on their values. Companies like Berkshire, Costco, and Home Depot don't mention AI because they are each in the business of 'same as ever' -- people will always love $1.50 hot dogs, people will always need hardware and housing appliances, and Berkshire has built it's entire portfolio on accumulating eternal-value businesses. (Morgan Housel's book 'Same As Ever' covers this elegantly).

Compare this to high-tech companies like Nvidia, Meta, and Alphabet, all their businesses rely on tech to be their main value add. AI mentions are imperative.


AI mentions are the virtue signal of our time. And it seems you can almost directly sort companies into high-tech vs. 'same as ever' businesses based solely on how often they mention the term AI over time (you could probably do the same with mentions of 'metaverse' or 'web3').

It's interesting to distill the zeitgeist down into trending mentions of a single word like this. That's what Uptrends does -- we track what people are talking about as it pertains to stocks, to make it easy for you to see what matters.