Analysis: GOOGL

Alphabet (GOOGL) reported a top- and bottom-line beat with its second-quarter results this afternoon. The company reported revenues of $26.01 billion (up 21% from last year's second quarter), exceeding expectations of $25.64 billion. EPS came in at $5.01 for the quarter, beating expectations by $0.55. 

Importantly, this quarter Alphabet recognized its $2.7 billion fine from the European Commission. This fine affected the company's reported EPS by $3.89. While the fine is significant, it will not likely impact trading going forward as it was factored into the company's stock price when it was first levied. 

We said in an analysis earlier this month how we felt the GOOGL tech selloff was overdone, and it was an opportune time to purchase shares back in the lower $900s level. Since then, the stock has returned to near its highs, even crossing the $1,000 mark today at one point. In the analysis, we detailed how the stock has been resilient in the face of adversity, overcoming YouTube controversies, and it would (and has) do the same with its EC fine. However, the stock is lower in today's after-hours trading due to advertising-click concerns. Despite beating on both the top and bottom lines, trending declines in aggregate cost per click have investors worried about the company's advertising business. While important to note, this has been trending in the company's recent quarters, and our initial view is that it will not be too much cause for concern. More on that later. 

Digging deeper into the quarter, Google properties (formerly labeled "websites"; in other words, the core business) revenue grew 19.6% year over year to $18.425 billion, beating expectations of $18.315 billion. Google Network Members' properties revenue came in for the quarter at $4.247 billion, up about 13.5% year over year and beating estimates of $3.985 billion. Overall, Google advertising revenue was $22.372 billion, representing about an 18.5% increase year over year and representing a slight deceleration compared to the last quarter's results. 

Google Other revenue, which includes Pixel sales, cloud services and Google Play, grew 42% year over year to $3.09 billion. Management remains encouraged by this segment as they see momentum growing in these newer revenue streams, picking up strength with the increased efforts. 

Lastly, the Other bets segment, which covers businesses such as Waymo, Google Fiber, Nest and Verily, reported revenue of $248 million. This represents a 34% increase year over year. While revenue increased, it's important to note that the segment operated at a loss of $722 million, with the loss decreasing from last year's $855 million. This segment contains many of GOOGL's "moonshot" projects that require heavy investment, which creates the operating losses. However, should one project pay off, we believe it will become a very lucrative business for the company. Therefore, given the potential of some of the businesses within the division, this is one segment we are rather forgiving about for the bottom line as we view the big picture. 

We believe that despite the company beating on both the top and bottom, investors are worried about click metrics. For the quarter, aggregate paid clicks increased 52% year over year and 12% sequentially, with a majority of the growth stemming from the Google Properties division. However, aggregate cost per click declined for another quarter, in total declining 23% year over year and 6% sequentially. While the cost per click rose for Google Network Members sequentially, the heavily weighted Google Properties declined 26% year over year and 8% sequentially. Management has had to defend this area in recent quarters; although the volume of clicks increased, the company is receiving less money for each one. GOOGL has prepared investors for this steady trend, as advertising has shifted toward mobile platforms and YouTube, both of which drive higher volume growth in nature but at lower prices. In addition, for the quarter the company's total traffic acquisition costs (TAC) increased to $5.091 billion, representing 22% of GOOGL's advertising revenue. 

Overall, we are encouraged by the strong quarter despite the discouraging click trend. We believe GOOGL can be successful with its diversification away from advertising, but we understand the business represents the heart of its business and the process will take time. While advertising will always be a major core component to the company, we are pleased with some of the progress GOOGL has been making in its other revenue and Other Bets segments. It has been about two years since the creation of Alphabet, and the company has seen strategic benefits from separating its focus. While the company may see short-term weakness immediately following its report, we do not believe it will be sustained as the company continues to deliver and improve on its long-term objectives. However, we do recognize the click concerns moving forward and we will update members accordingly should we believe it to be a larger part of the company's story.