Alphabet Earnings: Advertising Revenue Growth Disappoints

Growth in Google search and YouTube offset by continuing weakness in advertising technology busines.

Ali Mogharabi 31 January, 2024 | 1:14PM
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Alphabet (GOOGL) released earnings after the market close on Tuesday night. Here's what our analysts thought of the results.

The network effect continued to drive growth at Google search and YouTube during the fourth quarter. In addition, as we expected, increasing demand for artificial intelligence accelerated cloud revenue growth. However, continuing weakness in Google’s advertising technology business, or Google network, pressured total advertising growth a bit.

We expect further declines in the network segment this year and next, as we still think that Google’s owned and operated properties remain the top priority for advertisers. We also believe that more advertisers will likely use non-Google ad-tech platforms when they purchase on non-Google properties. This has been a trend for more than 10 years, during which network revenue has declined to 13% of total advertising revenue from nearly 23%.

Alphabet Stock Fair Value Estimate Increased

We have increased our revenue projections for Alphabet as the acceleration in cloud revenue growth, further monetization of YouTube, and the continuing steady growth in search likely will more than offset the impact of declining network segment revenue. In addition, we have increased our margin assumptions through 2028, given the cloud segment’s margin expansion and the success of the firm’s overall cost control and efficiency efforts. Our model adjustments result in a US$171 fair value estimate, up from $161.

Alphabet reported total fourth-quarter revenue of $86.3 billion, up more than 13% from last year. The growth in search (13%) and YouTube advertising (16%) more than offset the 2% decline in network revenue. Cloud growth accelerated year over year to 26% from 22.5% in the previous quarter as the number of cloud clients and usage per client increased. Strong subscriber growth in YouTube Premium, YouTube TV, YouTube Music, and Google One drove the 23% growth in Google’s other services revenue.

The operating margin expanded more than 350 basis points from the same quarter last year to 27.5%, resulting in an operating income of $23.7 billion.

Key Morningstar Metrics for Alphabet

• Fair Value Estimate: US$171.00;
• Current Price: US$151.46;
• Morningstar Rating: 3 stars;
• Morningstar Economic Moat Rating: Wide;
• Morningstar Uncertainty Rating: High.

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security NamePriceChange (%)Morningstar Rating
Alphabet Inc Class A174.99 USD0.83Rating

About Author

Ali Mogharabi

Ali Mogharabi  Ali Mogharabi is a senior equity analyst for Morningstar.

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