Digital ads lift Google but shares hit by costs

Bulls Look to Alphabet Results to Keep Tech Stock Rally Going

In nearly as much of an anticlimax as the Snoozer Bowl, Alphabet Inc. today again beat most expectations for its fourth quarter thanks to continued strength in its search and video advertising and investment gains.

Alphabet's advertising commissions, or the money it pays other companies to direct people to its search, grew 14 per cent to $7.4 billion from $6.5 billion a year ago.

Alphabet generated revenue of $39.3 billion during the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to $32.3 billion during the same quarter a year before.

Traffic acquisition costs or TAC were $7.4B (consensus: $7.62B; up from $6.58B in Q3) or 23% of revenue, down a percentage point from last year's quarter. "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". The search giant's operating income rose 13% year-over-year from $8.6 billion to $9.7 billion. Last year Google chose its fourth-quarter earnings call to disclose a quarterly cloud revenue run rate above $1 billion, but it has declined to update that number since that disclosure. 1 The number of new employees - excluding contractors and the like - jumped 23 percent in a year to almost 100,000. Earnings per share were actually $12.77.

Of that figure, Google's advertising revenues represented the company's greatest source of income, totalling approximately $32.64 billion Dollars (roughly $42.83 billion CAD) in Q4 2018.

Before the results were released the company's share price had rallied after stumbling along with its peers a year ago.

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Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) drops 2.5% aftermarket on Q4 results that beat EPS and revenue estimates with a 22% Y/Y revenue growth. Google remains behind rival Amazon.com Inc in the cloud, said Cordwell.

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

Google more than doubled the number of Cloud Platform deals over $1 million, as well as the number of multiyear contracts signed, Pichai said. The global market for advertising appears to be finite, and Google and Facebook already grab a large share of spending.

So what's in store for Google's results?

The company's "other bets", including its autonomous driving division Waymo and its life sciences and cybersecurity units, took in $154 million in revenue. The "other bets" businesses had an operating loss of $3.4 billion in 2018, or about $4 per share. "We also ended the year with another milestone passing 5 million paying customers for our Cloud collaboration and productivity solution G Suite".

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