Google parent company reports impressive growth in Q4 and FY 2018

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Alphabet swung to a profit of $8.9 billion, up from a $3 billion loss in the same period a year ago due to the effects of a new federal tax law.

Alphabet generated revenue of $39.3 billion during the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to $32.3 billion during the same quarter a year before.

Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting earnings per share of $10.86, or a profit of $7.6 billion, on revenue of $38.9 billion. Little is known about the finances of YouTube, Google's homegrown smartphones and other hardware, its cloud-computing operation, and potentially promising experiments such as driverless cars.

Google properties account for almost all of the company's revenues - $39.1bn in the last quarter. The company is spending some of that on buying back an additional $12.5 billion of its Class C shares. YouTube numbers are buried inside Google, while cloud and hardware results are part of Google's Other revenues line.

Google parent Alphabet reported its fourth quarter earnings for 2018 today, and we'd like to focus on the parts of the report that were related to Google.

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"At Google's massive scale, a slowdown in ad revenue growth is to be expected, particularly in the US, eMarketer Senior Forecasting Director Monica Peart said in an email". Excluding traffic acquisition costs, or ad revenue-sharing payments to partner sites, revenue rose to $31.8 billion. It barely brushed that mark in the fourth quarter, but that's a hard pace to keep up for a company with more than $100 billion in sales.

In the final three months of 2018, Google's CEO was grilled by Congress about data privacy, its employees around the world walked out over sexual harassment scandals, and it disclosed a security bug impacting its largely forgotten social network, Google Plus. The costs of its most ambitious projects also rose sharply. Alphabet's profits were thinner because of its investment in cloud services. Operating losses were $1.33 billion.

"Other bets", as Alphabet calls its more experimental businesses including Waymo, the self-driving auto startup, its fiber optic cable business and Verily, its health division, had revenues of $154m.

Google remains a dominant player in online advertising even as Alphabet has ventured into "moonshots" in new sectors. It was the lowest growth rate in the company's short history, and the company has many challenges to keep growing, but it turns out that Facebook keeps making bank because its ads work and the company is willing to plaster them all over its internet hangouts.

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