Google ad sales push Alphabet earnings to record, stock heads toward new high

Google parent Alphabet Inc. rang up record profits for a third straight quarter during the pandemic, catapulting shares 5% toward a record stock high in after-hours trading Tuesday.

The search-engine behemoth GOOGL, 4.25% GOOG, 4.56% reported net income of $17.93 billion, or $26.29 a share in its fiscal first quarter, compared with net income of $6.84 billion, or $9.87 a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Revenue after removing traffic-acquisition costs improved to $45.6 billion from $33.7 billion in the year-ago period. Overall revenue soared 34% to $55.3 billion.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet had estimated net income of $15.76 a share, on ex-TAC revenue of $51.5 billion. Traffic-acquisition costs were estimated at $9.1 billion, which would give Alphabet revenue of $42.4 billion when extracted.

Equally significant, the company’s operating margin improved to 30% in the quarter, vs. 19% in the same quarter a year ago.

“Over the last year, people have turned to Google Search and many online services to stay informed, connected and entertained. We’ve continued our focus on delivering trusted services to help people around the world,” Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said in a statement disclosing the results Tuesday.

The company’s board also authorized the repurchase of up to an additional $50 billion of its Class C capital stock.

Search was the big breadwinner, again, with $31.9 billion in sales, compared with $24.5 billion in the same quarter a year ago. YouTube ad sales jumped 49% year-over-year to $6 billion.

Google’s Cloud revenue improved 46% to $4 billion, though the division lags behind rivals Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, 1.82% and Microsoft Corp. MSFT, -3.18%.

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