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Alphabet Shares Surge on Strong Earnings, Dividend Surprise

We are raising our fair value estimate for the stock, which now looks fairly valued after the latest share price rise.

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Alphabet Inc Class C

Key Morningstar Metrics for Alphabet

What We Thought of Alphabet’s Earnings

Alphabet GOOGL/GOOG delivered strong results during the first quarter, with revenue growth accelerating and restructuring efforts driving margin expansion. The firm also instituted a dividend, which will total about $10 billion annually at the initial rate, and authorized an additional $70 billion of share repurchases. While growth likely won’t maintain this quarter’s pace throughout this year, Alphabet’s results position it to exceed our expectations for the year.

The firm is ramping up its efforts to develop artificial intelligence technology, setting expectations that capital investment will continue at the current pace, implying full-year spending of nearly $50 billion versus about $32 billion each of the past two years. Alphabet is taking a tough stance on costs, continuing to cut headcount and consolidating teams to blunt the impact of infrastructure investments on profitability.

After adjusting our assumptions, we’re increasing our fair value estimate to $179 per share from $171. With the jump in the stock price following the earnings release, the shares now look fairly valued.

Total revenue increased 15% year over year versus 13% last quarter, continuing the accelerating trend seen over the past year, though the leap year added about 1% to growth. Search advertising increased 14%, with online retailers, including those based in Asia, driving growth. Asian retailers began stepping up spending in the second quarter of last year, which will create a headwind over the balance of 2024.

YouTube advertising surged 21%, which management attributed to rapid improvement in the monetization of Shorts, in addition to usage growth. The cloud business also delivered impressive growth, with revenue up 28%—the best result in more than a year—as AI use cases augmented growth in the compute and Workspace productivity businesses.

Continued strong subscriber growth drove an 18% increase in other Google services revenue from the prior year. As the firm announced earlier this year, YouTube TV now has more than 8 million subscribers, and we estimate that the service contributed about half of the growth in this segment.

The operating margin expanded nearly 4 percentage points to 32.5%, excluding heavy restructuring charges a year ago. Management expects efficiency gains across the business will offset increasing depreciation expense, allowing the operating margin to expand in 2024 versus the prior year. Capital spending nearly doubled year over year to $12 billion during the quarter, resulting in free cash flow dropping slightly to $16.8 billion.

Alphabet Stock vs. Morningstar Fair Value Estimate

The author or authors do not own shares in any securities mentioned in this article. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.

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About the Author

Michael Hodel, CFA

Sector Director
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Michael Hodel, CFA, is director of communications services equity research for Morningstar Research Services, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Morningstar, Inc. He covers U.S. telecom service providers and related firms, including AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast. His team covers media companies, global telecom service providers, and owners of telecom infrastructure, such as wireless towers and data centers.

Hodel joined Morningstar in 1998. Prior to his current position, he spent two years as a portfolio manager for Morningstar Investment Management, LLC. Previously, he served as a technology strategist responsible for telecom research, chair of Morningstar’s Economic Moat Committee, and a senior member of Morningstar’s corporate credit ratings initiative.

Hodel holds a bachelor’s degree in finance, with highest honors, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation.

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