Alphabet (GOOG)

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WHAT HAS CHANGED?

Impact of Coronavirus

IT software and Services industries are suffering from a fall in demand for software and web services as consumers are focusing solely on essentials and not discretionary products. That said, the industry has seen companies with a portfolio of software as well as services aimed at remote collaboration benefit due to the growing number of people globally. Many companies are also operating with employees working remotely from their own home.

Latest Earnings

Alphabet announced its Q3 2020 results on Oct 29th, 2020. The company reported revenues of $46.2 billion, up 14% y-o-y and 15% y-o-y on a constant currency basis. Google Advertising segment's revenue rose at 10% y-o-y as it recorded revenue of $37 billion. Google Cloud saw a good revenue growth as it recorded revenue of $3.4 billion up, 45% y-o-y. Operating Margin rose to 24%, and Operating Income was recorded at $11.2 billion, up by 22% y-o-y. Earnings for the quarter were recorded at $16.55, down from $10.20 in same period of 2019.

POTENTIAL UPSIDE & DOWNSIDE TO TREFIS PRICE

Below are key drivers of Alphabet's value that present opportunities for upside or downside to the current Trefis price estimate for Alphabet:

Alphabet's Google Search Ads


  • Google Search Ads Revenues: Google continues to lead the search market with an estimated market share of over 90% in 2018. As the company improves its in-app search with deep links, Google revenues from mobile search will improve. We currently project search ads revenues to grow to $160 billion by the end of forecast period.

  • Google Search EBITDA Margin: We currently forecast Google's Search EBITDA margin to decline from 2019 level of 41.6% to 40% by the end of the Trefis forecast period. Historically, Google's main operating cost component has been traffic acquisition costs (TAC). We believe that investments to allay privacy-related concerns, the growth rate of TAC, and employee compensation relative to revenues are likely to pressure its margins.

For additional details, select a driver above or select a division from the interactive Trefis split for Google at the top of the page.

BUSINESS SUMMARY

Google.com and Google's international sites (e.g., Google.ru, Google.com.br, and others) offer a dedicated platform to conduct searches on the Internet through PCs and wireless devices.

Google makes money from contextual advertising known as keyword advertising that is shown based on the type of search a user conducts. For example, a user searching for "NYC restaurants" would be shown a variety of ads on the right-hand side of Google's search results about restaurants and food services in New York City.

Advertisers on Google bid for keywords (such as "NYC restaurants ") to display their advertisements on the Google search page. Google AdWords allows these advertisers to display advertisements in Google's search results and the Google Content Network through either a cost-per-click or cost-per-view scheme. The pricing of keywords, the inventory of keywords available, and the frequency of user search impact how much money Google makes on search.

In addition to advertising on its search engine, Alphabet makes money by placing advertisements on other Google-owned properties such as video-sharing site YouTube, email service Google Mail (Gmail), etc. Alphabet also makes money by facilitating the placement of advertising on its "partner" websites (via ad serving platform AdSense) from which it receives a share of the advertising revenue.

Google search on mobile is increasingly gaining importance as more and more users are shifting towards mobile devices like smartphones and tablets for desktop-based web browsing. According to our estimates, derived from publicly available sources, tablets and smartphones surpassed PCs in use globally in 2014. As a result, mobile search is increasingly gaining importance for Google, rivaling its PC-based search in contributing towards Google's stock.

SOURCES OF VALUE

We believe Google Search Ads is much more valuable than Ad Partnerships for Search & Content, YouTube, Gmail, and other divisions of Alphabet due to the following reasons:

Google Dominates Web Search on a Global Scale

Alphabet's flagship search business, Google, continues to dominate globally. Competitors such as Microsoft have been consistently pushed back as Google retains market shares of around 63% and 95% in PC and mobile devices, respectively. The company's superior algorithms and brand recognition have found favor with users, and to date, the search engine market has not boasted of a better search tool. Given the current trends, Google's dominance is expected to continue, although one cannot discount future technologies such as Apple's Siri as possible future threats.

Growing Internet Searches per PC in Use

As web penetration increases across emerging markets like India, users are expected to increasingly become more familiar and comfortable with using web search as the flagship tool to look for information. In addition to this, web browser development has made it easier to do a web search promptly. For example, Google Chrome obviates the need to open the Google homepage to perform a search. These above factors should contribute significantly to growing web searches for every PC device globally.

Smartphone and Tablet Usage on the Rise

The mobile revolution would have a significant role to play in the way Google search is utilized. Smartphone and tablet capabilities are improving by leaps and bounds. This includes personal usage like finding restaurants and utilizing maps and GPS (Global Positioning System), as well as professional uses such as sending/receiving emails and making presentations. As bandwidths increase in emerging markets, mobile device functionality is expected to come at par with PCs in the coming years. This should lead to a substantial increase in the number of mobile devices in use globally.

KEY TRENDS

Growing Mobile Search

We expect increasing adoption of Internet search capable mobile phones, higher mobile Internet speeds, and increasing partnerships between search engines and mobile phone manufacturers (e.g. think Google search on iPhone). According to a report by Zion Research, global mobile ad spending is expected to grow to $245 billion by 2022, a CAGR 15% over 2016 numbers. Google's open-source mobile OS, the Android, should greatly benefit from this, as it uses Google search as the default search option. Android also has the advantage of being used by multiple manufacturers, including Samsung, LG HTC, and most of the Chinese vendors.

Increasing Video Advertising

In contrast to search, which is more functional and commercial in nature, online video and social networking are more entertainment-focused, where ads are generally seen as a distraction. Currently, advertisements displayed on such platforms are graphical and static, which does not drive the same recall as a moving video (e.g., television ads). As YouTube and other video sharing sites figure out better ways of displaying ads that are not intrusive and do not interfere much with the user experience, advertisers will be willing to pay more for such ads, driving up overall video advertising monetization.

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