How much is Google-parent Alphabet Inc spending on “moonshots” – self-driving cars, glucose-monitoring contact lenses, Internet balloons and other ambitious projects?
Investors will get their long-awaited answer when Alphabet reports fourth-quarter results after markets close on Monday.
The report will be the first time Alphabet will break out results for what it calls “Other Bets,” which includes Google Fiber; smart home accessory maker Nest Labs and the secretive “X”, home to the self-driving cars project.
The results will also show how successful Google was in targeting ads at a fast-growing number of mobile users, especially after Facebook Inc’s stellar report.
A strong report could boost the stock enough for Alphabet to surpass Apple Inc as the most valuable company in the world.”For the first time they (Alphabet) have a real catalyst to the stock, aside from a standard beat-and-raise,” said James Cakmak, an analyst at Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co Inc.
The market has wanted four things from Alphabet: consistent revenue growth, margin stabilization, greater disclosure and share buybacks, and they will get all of them this quarter, RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney said.
The reading may not be pretty.
A Raymond James survey showed that 72 percent of investors expect “Other Bets” lost more than $1.5 billion in 2015. “We believe revenues from Other Bets will be fairly immaterial for Alphabet given the early stages of most of these businesses,” Raymond James analysts wrote in a note.
To be sure, almost all of Alphabet’s revenue comes from its Google unit. The unit houses its Internet and related businesses such as search, ads, maps, YouTube and Android as well as hardware products such as its Chromebooks.
Google’s revenue has been bolstered by its efforts to drive sales from its mobile and video advertising as well as Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat’s increased discipline on expenses.
Ad sales to mobile users is going to be the main driver to Google’s results, just as it was at Facebook.
Analysts on average are expecting Alphabet’s profit to rise to $8.10 per share from $6.88 and revenue to rise 14.7 percent to $20.76 billion. Alphabet shares closed at $761.35 on Friday, valuing the company at about $517 billion, 4.4 percent shy of Apple’s valuation of about $540 billion.