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US: Analysts may question Google on Antitrust investigations during earnings call

 |  October 28, 2019

During a quarterly earnings call on Monday, October 28, financial analysts may be as interested in Google’s ongoing investigations as in reported revenue. 

Reuters reported that the analysts might be looking for details on continuing antitrust investigations, including one currently being done by attorneys general from in 48 U.S. states. 

When asked, Google is expected to respond that it has faced these types of investigations before, and by some of the same organizations.

Texas recently announced that it was going to spearhead the investigation by the state attorneys general into anticompetitive practices by the search giant and its advertising practices.

Google is likely to say that these types of investigations never lead anywhere, and point to a Federal Trade Commission probe in 2013 that was settled.

“We have answered many questions on these issues over many years, in the United States as well as overseas, across many aspects of our business, so this is not new for us,” Google wrote in a recent blog post.

However, the probes have aided a new type of fervor for going after Google. Missouri has been investigating Google for two years, and it recently folded its investigation into the larger Texas one. The idea is that with more and more AGs on board, “there’s a lot more firepower,” said Chris Nuelle, a Missouri AG spokesman.

Google parent company Alphabet’s quarterly revenue is expected to come in around 20%, which is its usual rate. Its cloud computing business and YouTube are expected to be large revenue earners. Google does not offer in-depth product level disclosures though, and that could leave investors with more questions than answers about how Google is going to deal with things like more regulatory scrutiny and increasing pushback from advertisers.

While there have been previous investigations, the interest in Google from regulators and lawmakers has not abated, according to Sally Hubbard, a director at the antitrust-advocacy group Open Markets Institute. Hubbard worked at the New York AG’s office from 2005 to 2012. 

“But the political winds have shifted,” Hubbard said. “There’s a lot more momentum to fix the situation.”

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