Alphabet Inc’s new Chief Executive Sundar Pichai unveiled sales figures that investors have long demanded, but shares fell 5 per cent as Google’s advertising business and the new data about YouTube and Google Cloud broadly disappointed.
Pichai had sought to counter slowing revenue growth in the company’s main advertising business by pointing to the Silicon Valley firm’s younger units.
But Pichai’s reveal that Google’s YouTube video streaming unit is generating ad revenue at a pace of $15 billion annually put it below rough estimates as high as $25 billion.
Divulging 53pc quarterly revenue growth for Google’s cloud services compared with a year ago meant it grew slower than the business it is trying to catch up to, Microsoft Corp’s Azure, which reported 62% quarterly rise in sales last week.
Alphabet has blamed currency exchange rates and its constant tweaking of features, saying that it is not focused on quarterly marks.
“We continue to be very focused on the benefit from better measurement, better ad delivery, better user experience,” Alphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat responded to an analyst. “But there will be variability over time because we’re very focused on what’s in the right long-term interest.” Shares of the company fell about 4.5pc in extended trading to $1,416.
“The stock was priced for perfection, and a top-line miss was enough to send it lower,” said Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush Securities. “YouTube was impressive at $15 billion for the year, Cloud less so at $8.9 billion.”
Other financial analysts said YouTube’s ad revenue was underwhelming too.
“YouTube is smaller than generally assumed, but on the flipside, search seems to have accelerated and is growing faster than feared,” said James Cordwell, analyst at Atlantic Equities.
Alphabet’s overall sales in the fourth quarter were $46.08 billion, up 17pc, compared with an average estimate of $46.94 billion among financial analysts tracked by Refinitiv.
Google ad sales in the holiday shopping quarter were $37.93 billion, up 16.7pc from the same period last year. Alphabet’s expenses have ballooned with the hiring of thousands of salespeople, building of new data centers and marketing the Google brand through hardware and other ventures.
For the fourth quarter, Alphabet’s total costs and expenses rose 18.5pc from a year ago to $36.809 billion.
Porat said hiring and infrastructure spending would accelerate in 2020.
Alphabet’s fourth-quarter profit was $10.67 billion, or $15.35 per share, compared with the analysts’ average estimate of $8.787 billion, or $12.53 per share.
Hardware sales fell in the fourth quarter compared with a year ago, Porat said. Results could suffer further from any protracted work stoppages in Asia as companies combat the outbreak of a new coronavirus in China, she said.
Google last week temporarily shut down all its offices in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan due to the coronavirus. It has thousands of engineers across the region, including a hardware engineering center in Taiwan.
In December, Google CEO Pichai gained the additional role of Alphabet CEO from Larry Page as he and fellow co-founder Sergey Brin stepped back even further from day-to-day management.
The new YouTube disclosures under Pichai showed ad revenue grew 31pc compared with last year.
Pichai also said YouTube, which has 2 billion monthly users, generated about $750 million in subscription and other non-advertising revenue, but did not reveal a figure for the year-earlier period.
Pichai said YouTube had 20 million paid subscribers between YouTube’s Music and Premium ad-free viewing packages, and separately had 2 million paid subscribers for YouTube TV, which competes with Dish Network Corp’s Sling TV and Walt Disney Co’s Hulu to stream television online.
Amazon recently said it has 55 million music subscribers, while Apple Inc last year announced 60 million such subscribers. Sling had about 2.7 million subscribers as of last year, in line with estimates for Hulu.
Shares of Alphabet were up 28.1pc in the last 12 months entering Monday, compared with 21.8pc for Facebook shares, 23.5pc for Amazon, 68.1pc for Microsoft and 88.7pc for Apple Inc .