Share prices of Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) continued to slide hours before its 3Q earnings call on October 27 as weak iPhone sales temporarily took the wind out of tech stocks. Analysts remain upbeat, however, as profits rise.
Facebook (FB), Alibaba (BABA), Amazon (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) all traded in negative territory after Apple (AAPL) just missed Wall Street’s revenue target on Tuesday.
“Alphabet’s down today along with all large cap peers, in sympathy with Apple,” said Rob Sanderson, a senior research analyst at MKM Partners.
A mere three days after Alphabet hit an all-time high of $837.22, the consensus remains that its 3Q profits will be just fine.
The digital ad hegemon is outperforming the S&P 500 at the robust clip of 12 percent to 3.3 percent. Currently trading at $816.72, Bloomberg Terminal analysts overwhelmingly favor a buy with a price target of $943.00.
Cooling down from last quarter’s revenue of $21.5 billion, the estimates for the third quarter are $18.23 billion compared to $18.68 billion year-over-year. While there is likely to be deceleration in ad revenue — costs per click are estimated to decline 4.8 percent year-over-year — paid clicks are estimated to be up 26 percent year-over-year.
In a report from October 24, MKM Partners emphasized that Alphabet is reining in expenses while successfully monetizing new advertising formats, especially with mobile.
Alphabet’s pledge of “no free passes” for financially foundering moonshots is largely the work of Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat.
“Ruth has been tightening the screws for a year, and the market has loved it,” said James Gryta, a portfolio manager at Einbender Capital.
Despite lower revenues, the $6.09 billion in net profit forecast for this quarter is up from $4.89 billion in the second quarter and $3.98 billion year-over-year. The adjusted earnings per share forecast of $8.61 is a dramatic rise from $5.73 year-over-year and also up from last quarter’s $7.01.
Higher profit but lower revenue may be an indication of layoffs. In this instance, Google Fiber is the whipping boy.
Craig Barratt, the executive in charge of Google Fiber, stepped down on Tuesday, ushering in a 9 percent cut to his erstwhile staff. Dallas and half a dozen other cities that were slated to receive Fiber’s ultrafast 1000 Mb/s of internet connectivity are now on hold.
Other moonshots lost their heads in the past three months: Nest’s Tony Fadell, Google Venture’s Bill Marris and Project Wing’s Dave Vos. Nest is a home automation division, Google Venture deals with venture capital and Project Wing is an attempt to utilize drones to deliver packages.
Last quarter, Alphabet maxed out its $5 billion earmarked for potential stock buy backs. With $80 billion in cash, Sanderson predicted the board may approve more buybacks shortly.
The release of Alphabet’s high-end smartphone Pixel, with a price tag of $870.00, shows a willingness to go toe-to-toe with Apple, but its revenue base remains digital advertising.
“Facebook is the only threat to Google with online ad revenues, but it will take a Herculean effort to significantly diminish Google’s position anytime in the next three years,” Gryta said. “Who knows what platform will be available in 2020? We could all be VR zombies powered by Android iOS.”