Whatever you've got to say about Google, it can't hear you over the sound of it banking $85m a day in pure profit

Costs on the rise but still added $99m a day to its bottom line in Q4 2018

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Google parent company Alphabet says it logged a 23 per cent jump in revenues in the final quarter of 2018, even as losses from its various side projects continue to mount.

For the company's fourth quarter of the year, ending December 31, released Monday this week:

  • Revenues of $39.3bn were up 23 per cent from $32.2bn in Q4 2017.
  • Net income of $8.95bn was up from a $3bn loss in the year-ago quarter when Google took a $10bn write off in tax charges. That's just under $100m a day in profit over the 90-day period.
  • Earnings per share (non-GAAP) were $12.77, compared to a loss of $4.35 last year, and above estimates of $11.08.
  • Google web properties revenues – ad money from Google's own websites – were $27bn, up 22 per cent from $22.2bn in Q4 2017.
  • Google network revenues – display ad cash from non-Google sites – were $5.6bn were up 12 per cent from $5bn last year's quarter.
  • Google "other" revenues – think cloud platform and other non-advertising dosh – were $6.5bn, up 30 per cent from $5bn. To compare numbers, though not features, Amazon's cloud org AWS alone raked in $7.43bn in sales in its latest quarter.
  • Google operating income was $9.7bn, up 13 per cent from $8.6bn.
  • Alphabet's non-Google "other bets" unit reported $154m in revenue, up 18 per cent from $131m. Losses, however, doubled on the year-ago quarter, checking in at $1.32bn.

For the full 2018 fiscal year, also ending December 31:

  • Revenues were $136.8bn, up 23 per cent from $110.9bn last year. That's $375m a day, every damn day, in sales over the year.
  • Net income of $30.74bn was up 142 per cent from $12.7bn in 2017, noting again the $10bn tax write-off from repatriating cash stored overseas. That's just over $84m profit a day, every day, for the whole year.
  • Earnings per share on the year were $43.70, up from $18.27 last year, but short of $45.79 analysts estimated.
  • Google business revenue was $136.2bn, up from $110.4bn last year.
  • Other bets revenue was $595m, up from $477, though operating loss increased from $2.7bn to $3.36bn as well.

Among the numbers that stood out was the jump in costs and capital expenditures, both in Google and Alphabet's other bets. For the latter, much of the cost jump over the year was from fiber cable rollouts – Google has an awful lot of private fiber – while the ad giant also invested in, among other things, data centers and the hiring of more sales and research workers.

CFO Ruth Porat told analysts on a conference call Monday Google hopes those expenses pay off in the near future, particularly Google's focus on machine learning and AI.

"we see significant ongoing potential to apply our machine learning capabilities across our business," said Porat said.

The higher-than-expected cost of business for Alphabet seemed to worry investors, as the company's stock was down 2.84 per cent at $1,100.64 apiece in after-hours trading. ®


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