Google parent Alphabet Q4 results: shares down after earnings revenue beats estimates

The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London Britain. Toby Melville Reuters  File

A booming digital advertising market lifted Google's fourth-quarter advertising sales by a fifth and helped Alphabet, its parent, to beat Wall Street's profit and revenue forecasts last night.

In its announcement, Alphabet said Google and the other companies under its wing earned $39.27 billion, up 22 percent from $32.3 billion in Q4 2017.

Today, Google said fourth-quarter "other revenues", which is mostly cloud but also includes Google Play apps, smartphones and smart speakers, rose 31 percent, to $6.49 billion.

Alphabet's traffic and acquisition cost were $7.4 billion, up from $6.5 billion a year ago. Chief financial officer (CFO), Ruth Porat, said that the capital expenditure (capex) will help Alphabet's growth.

The company which now has 98,771 employees globally reported a net income of $8.94 billion for the fourth quarter.

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While Alphabet has invested aggressively in new businesses such as cloud services and autonomous vehicles, advertising still generates most of its revenue. Twelve analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $31.28 billion.

Google is aware of this, which is why its earnings report includes a section titled "Other Bets", describing efforts like self-driving-car company Waymo, its health company Verily, and the high-speed internet provider Google Fiber.

The per-click cost on Google's advertising - an imprecise but generally useful yardstick for how much Google is able to charge advertisers - was down 29 percent compared to past year, and 9 percent from last quarter.

Alphabet shares declined 3 percent in extended trading.

According to a February 4th, 2019 media release, Alphabet increased its Q4 revenue by 22 percent between 2017 and 2018.

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Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told analysts the number of people shopping on Google.com each day during the holidays doubled over previous year.

Alphabet's stock price dropped roughly 3 percent despite the beat in after-market trading Monday. (The company said its growth in capital spending and hiring will moderate this year.) Stock watchers appeared to focus on the negative for Google. The number of clicks on ads that Google ran on its own services surged 66 percent in the fourth quarter, versus the 2017 holiday period.

The other segment of interest in Alphabet's ledger is "other bets", which is where the company lumps all non-Google business.

Losses from other bets almost doubled over the year to $1.3bn from $748m a year ago. Among the more damaging of those was its work on a China-specific search engine which ultimately caused questions to be raised by the U.S. government. Most of those were engineers and product managers, with cloud the biggest-growing segment, Porat said.

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