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Alphabet (GOOGL) Q4 Earnings Beat Estimates, Revenues Miss

Zacks Equity Research

Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL non-GAAP earnings of $15.35 per share in fourth-quarter 2019 surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $12.76. Also, earnings increased 51.7% sequentially and 20.2% year over year.

Net revenues — excluding total traffic acquisition cost or TAC (TAC is the portion of revenues shared with Google’s partners, and amounts paid to distribution partners and others who direct traffic to the Google website) — came in at $37.57 billion. The figure was up 13.8% sequentially and 18% year over year.

Net revenues missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 2.3% due to declining search advertising growth and lower-than-expected YouTube sales.

Following the weaker-than-expected sales in the fourth quarter, Alphabet’s share price was down 4.1% in the after-hour trading session. Foreign exchange currency headwinds, increasing expenses and other regulatory issues are some of the reasons for the decline in its share price.

Notably, primary drivers of the Google business haven’t changed. Yet, pricing remains under pressure, both on account of nagging FX concerns, and continued strength in mobile and TrueView.

Nonetheless, Google continues to enjoy strength in the mobile platform. Management is focused on driving mobile experiences and the company is well positioned to pick up strong intent-to-buy signals by studying mobile searches from the huge database. As a result, direct response marketers continue to show interest in it.

The company’s Google Cloud recorded 53% year-over-year revenue growth in the quarter. It will continue to invest in this space.

YouTube remains a strong contributor to the company’s growth. More than a thousand creators are currently engaged in the platform, bringing in a thousand subscribers every day. However, time and again it faces continuous pressure from advertisers to tighten controls on the fast-growing YouTube video service, in a bid to avoid adult or offensive content.

Alphabet Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise


Alphabet Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

Alphabet Inc. price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | Alphabet Inc. Quote

Numbers in Detail


Gross total revenues of $46.1 billion increased 13.8% sequentially and 17.3% year over year (up 19% in constant currency). The increase reflects strong demand for the company’s search, video and web display ads.

Google Segment

The segment includes search, advertising, Play, hardware, and Cloud & Apps.

Beginning fourth quarter, Alphabet disaggregated its revenue segments on a more detailed basis, including Search, YouTube ads and Cloud.

Coming to the search business, revenues from Google-owned and partner sites grew 18.5% and 7.8% year over year, accounting for 69.2% and 13.1% of quarterly revenues, respectively. This resulted in a year-over-year increase of 16.7% in total advertising revenues.

Separately, YouTube grew 30.8% year over year to $4.7 billion, accounting for 10.2% of quarterly revenues. Google other revenues — which consists of YouTube non-advertising revenues — were $5.3 billion in the fourth quarter, up 10.3% year over year.

In addition, Google cloud grew 53% year over year to $2.6 billion, accounting for 5.7% of quarterly revenues.

Other Bets Segment

Other Bets revenues were $172 million, up 11% sequentially and 11.7% year over year, accounting for 0.4% of total fourth-quarter revenues.

Total traffic acquisition cost or TAC was up 13.5% sequentially and 14.3% year over year.

Operating Results

Per the press release, operating margin was 20%, up 100 basis points from the year-ago quarter.

Operating expenses were $15.8 billion, up 20.2% from the year-ago quarter.

The increase in expenses was a result of heavy investment in the cloud-computing business, artificial intelligence and consumer hardware, among others.

Balance Sheet

At the end of the fourth quarter, Alphabet had a solid balance sheet, with cash & cash equivalents, and marketable securities of around $119.7billion, up from $109.1 billion in the comparable prior-year period.

The company generated around $14.4 billion cash from operations in the fourth quarter and spent $6.1 billion on capex, netting a free cash flow of $8.4 billion.

Zacks Rank and Stocks to Consider

Currently, Alphabet carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the broader technology sector include Itron, Inc. ITRI, Splunk Inc. SPLK and Waters Corporation WAT, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Long-term earnings growth for Itron, Splunk, and Waters Corp is currently projected at 25%, 31.2% and 9.5%, respectively.

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