Google’s corporate parent boosted its earnings by 37 percent during the third quarter, but it still wasn’t enough to reassure investors worried about tougher regulations that could make it harder to collect the personal information that fuels the company’s advertising network.
Alphabet Inc. released results for Google and its other subsidiaries Thursday amid widespread jitters about technology companies’ prospects. Wall Street has been rattled by concerns about the effects of the President Donald Trump’s trade war with China and potential government crackdowns aimed at curbing the industry’s growing power.
Those fears have contributed to a 9 percent decline in Alphabet’s stock price that has erased $75 billion in shareholder wealth during the past three weeks. The downturn deepened after the third-quarter numbers were released: Alphabet’s shares shed nearly another 4 percent to fall to $1,056.47 in extended trading.
Making money isn’t a problem. Driven by the digital ads that bring in most of Google’s revenue, Alphabet earned $9.19 billion during the three months ending in September compared to $6.73 billion at the same time last year. That translated into $13.06 per share in the past quarter, well above the average estimate of $10.54 among analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.
But Alphabet’s revenue fell shy of analyst projections. The company’s revenue, after ad commissions, totaled $27.16 billion, more than $150 million below analysts’ predictions.
In addition, Google’s ad sales on its own services also slowed down, feeding concerns that people increasingly are searching for things on Amazon’s e-commerce site when they’re shopping — something that could cause advertisers to spend their money elsewhere in future quarters.
Those trends are never welcome, especially when investors are already feeling queasy about things.
One of Wall Street’s biggest concerns is the U.S. trade war with China, although there are few signs yet that the tariffs being imposed by the Trump administration are going to have a big effect on a company like Google, whose fortunes ride on digital ads.
But that advertising empire could be hindered if regulators adopt tougher privacy laws impeding Google’s ability to vacuum up personal information on the billions of users hooked on its free services, which include its influential search engine, YouTube video site, Gmail, Chrome browser and digital maps. Google also makes the Android operating system that powers most of the world’s mobile phones, providing it with software that can easily tie into its other services.
Europe already has imposed tougher privacy rules and slapped huge fines on Google for abusing its power and requiring the company to unbundle some of its services from Android.
Although Alphabet also owns other companies such as self-driving car pioneer Waymo, it would be unprofitable without Google.
Its other subsidiaries, collectively grouped into another category known as “Other Bets,” generated $146 million in revenue during the third quarter, a 25 percent increase from last year. Other Bets suffered an operating loss of $727 million in the quarter, widening from $650 million last year.
Parts of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research.