Alphabet misses Q4 profit targets, names new board chairman

Alphabet has named John Hennesy as new chairman of Alphabet's board of directors.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

Alphabet reported mixed fourth quarter financial results on Thursday along with news that it's elected a new board chairman.

The tech giant revealed in December that Eric Schmidt would be stepping down as the executive chairman of Alphabet's board of directors and transition to role of technical advisor. His replacement is John Hennessy, a board member since 2004 and the company's lead independent director since 2007.

As for the numbers, Alphabet reported a net loss of $3.02 billion, with non-GAAP earnings of $9.70 per share on revenue of $32.32 billion, when including traffic acquisition costs (TAC). On average, Wall Street was looking for Q3 earnings of $9.96 per share with $31.85 billion in revenue.

Net revenue excluding TAC was expected to be at $25.6 billion. Alphabet delivered just below target with $25.4 billion in revenue excluding TAC. Traffic acquisition costs accounted for 24 percent of Google ad revenues.

Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said during the earnings call that the increase in site's TAC as a percentage of site revenue, as well as network TAC as a percent of network revenue, "continues to reflect the fact that our strongest growth areas, namely mobile search and programmatic, carry higher TAC."

"The increase in the sites TAC rate year-over-year was driven by changes in partner agreements and the ongoing shift to mobile, which carries higher TAC because more mobile searches are channeled through paid access points," Porat said.

For fiscal 2017, Alphabet said total revenue was $110.9 billion, up 23 percent from the previous year. Alphabet noted that it was hit with a tax expense of $9.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017 related to recent US tax reform.

Google revenues, which include the company's enterprise cloud, software and data management products, attributed most of Q4 sales with $31.91 billion in revenue. Google's Other revenues were $4.7 billion.

Google's cost-per-click, which is how much it makes off each advertising click, decreased 16 percent year over year and seven quarter over quarter. The company's total advertising revenue was $27.23 billion.

In Alphabet's "moonshot" Other Bets category, which includes Waymo, Nest, Fiber, Alphabet's healthcare-driven initiatives and other speculative projects, the company posted revenue of $409 million, with operating losses increasing slightly to $916 million. Last quarter, losses in this category totaled $812 million.

On a call with analysts, Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed that Google Cloud, which includes G Suite and the Google Cloud Platform, is now a $1 billion per quarter business.

"In fact, we believe that Google Cloud platform, based on publicly reported data for the 12 months ending December 2017, is the fastest growing major public cloud provider in the world," he said. "We're also increasingly doing larger, more strategic deals with customers. In fact, a number of deals worth over $1 million across all cloud products more than tripled from 2016 to 2017."

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