Google's Parent Company Announces Quarterly and Annual Earnings

Bulls Look to Alphabet Results to Keep Tech Stock Rally Going

Google's tumultuous year didn't stop it from making more money than ever

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.

Alphabet's fourth quarter revenue rose 22 percent from a year ago to $39.28 billion, compared to the average expectation of $38.93 billion among analysts tracked by Refinitiv.

The fees that Alphabet pays to companies like Apple for Google to be their default search engine rose to $7.4bn up from $6.6bn for the same period past year.

"With great opportunities ahead, we continue to make focused investments in the talent and infrastructure needed to bring exceptional products and experiences to our users, advertisers and partners around the globe", said Alphabet chief financial officer Ruth Porat.

Google's paid-click growth slightly rose to more than 66% year-over-year, while the cost per click (CPC) declined 29%, slightly more than the third quarter of 2018. Revenues from its cloud business, hardware sales and Play, its music and media service, were $6.4bn.

Google more than doubled the number of Cloud Platform deals over $1 million, as well as the number of multiyear contracts signed, Pichai said. Cloud bets are likely to start paying off in the coming years, said Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives.

Alphabet has been viewed as a harbinger for the overall stock market, so the results may have an outsized impact when the market opens Tuesday.

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Porat said increased operating costs stemmed from licensing content for YouTube, expanded data centre operations and Google's hardware business. This more intense competition is seeing heightened downward pricing pressure being placed on Google, whose costs of doing business are also on the rise.

One stunning number is telling about Google's effectiveness as a business. Alphabet's results in that division were higher than the $7.62 billion Wall Street projected.

Other Bets, which include Waymo, generated revenue of $154 million, up 18 percent from a year earlier.

But Alphabet did not provide specifics on the numbers of those big contracts, or total Google Cloud revenue compared with previous years.

How well Google fares with investors will depend on how aggressively the tech giant tackles cloud computing services in the next year, either organically or through acquisitions.

After peaking in July, Google shares have fallen back to just above where they were trading early past year. It's also seeing an "uptick" in $100 million contracts, Porat said.

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