Earnings

Alphabet 1Q Results Soar On Mobile Ad Growth

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, posted results Monday that topped Wall Street estimates, as ad spending – across Google, in mobile search and also YouTube – showed traction.

Continued bets on new technologies, including Nest, as well as a stake in Uber, helped boost results as well.

The bulk of performance, of course, came from advertising, where 24 percent growth marked results year-over-year to $26.6 billion, the lion’s share of the $31.1 billion reported on a consolidated basis. The top line bested analyst results by about $870 million.

Net income per share at $9.93 adjusted, beat the Street at $9.33.

The headline net income number came in 73 percent higher to $9.4 billion, versus $5.4 billion in the first quarter of last year. Roughly $3 billion of that increase came from a boost in the value of securities holdings, including the stake in ride-hailing firm Uber.

Amid the top-line growth, and for Google staples such as YouTube and the flagship search business, paid clicks were up 8 percent for the year, and revenues on those owned properties stood at $22 billion.

Traffic acquisition costs, known as TAC, grew faster than revenues, up about 36 percent year-on-year, and stood at $6.3 billion.

Breaking TAC down a bit, TAC attributable to Google Network members came in at $3.4 billion, which represented 20 percent growth. TAC to distribution partners was $2.9 billion.

All told, TAC was 24 percent of the top line, up from 22 percent in the 2017 period, which is indicative of the continued shift to mobile search, as noted by management during the call.

The company said that paid clicks were up 59 percent as measured from last year. Even as paid clicks gained, cost per clicks were down 19 percent.

Other revenues, a segment that includes mobile devices, speakers and Play, was $4.3 billion, gaining about $1 billion from last year.

Capex grew more than 300 percent year-on-year, to $7.3 billion, where $2.4 billion was tied to buying real estate in New York. Alphabet also stated that it has been boosting investments in infrastructure ranging from data centers to cables – the underseas kind.

Management provided a bit more color on the earnings call as to where Capex dollars are headed.

CFO Ruth Porat and CEO Sundar Pichai stated that the company is steering Capex in part to boost machine learning computing operations. As Porat stated, “with respect to technical infrastructure, that reflects investments in computer power to support growth that we see across Google. The largest component is on machines … on machines, the biggest contributor is the demand that we’re seeing. So in particular, it’s the expanding application of machine-learning efforts across Alphabet, plus the requirements for cloud and search and YouTube.”

In the conference call with analysts, Pichai stated that prep work for GDPR has been underway for more than a year.

And reflecting during the call on mobile, Pichai stated that “for me, mobile obviously raises the bar. And if you look at the evolution of search … we evolved to stay ahead of user expectations, and we evolved from just providing links to answers. I just feel at a high level, the next big evolution we are doing as part of mobile search and assistant is to actually help users complete actions, to help get things done.”

In reference to newer technologies – and revenue streams beyond the core advertising business – the company said that Nest Labs, the connected home device unit, saw $726 million in sales through the past four quarters. Nest had been previously classified in “Other Bets,” but has been more to the Google operations. The Other Bets segment, without Nest, logged $150 million in sales year over year, up 14 percent.

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