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Alphabet earnings top estimates as online advertising remains robust

·Reporter

Alphabet (GOOGL, GOOG) reported third-quarter results that exceeded Wall Street's expectations as the technology giant saw a resurgence in its search business with travel activity ramping back up. 

Here were the main metrics from Alphabet's report, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Revenue, ex-TAC [minus traffic acquisition costs]: $53.62 billion vs. $52.62 billion expected, $38.01 billion Y/Y 

  • Earnings per share: $27.99 vs. $23.50 expected  

Alphabet has so far been the best performer this year among the "FAANG" names (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Alphabet’s Google) of Big Tech, with shares growing nearly 57% for the year-to-date through Tuesday's close. Unlike many other technology companies, Alphabet has been viewed as a key beneficiary of the reopening trade, given it stands to gain from a pick-up in travel-related searches and advertising on Google Search. 

Search has remained by far the biggest contributor to Alphabet's overall top-line growth, with the business unit growing 44% to bring in $37.9 billion in revenue in the third quarter, before traffic-acquisition costs. 

Other parts of the business have also been growing quickly and have comprised areas of opportunity for Alphabet to continue building out. YouTube ad sales grew 43% to top $7.2 billion in revenue in the third quarter. Google Cloud, a competitor to incumbent leaders in the cloud computing space like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, grew sales 45% to reach nearly $5 billion.

"As the digital transformation and shift to hybrid work continue, our Cloud services are helping organizations collaborate and stay secure," Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in the company's earnings statement. 

SEATTLE, UNITED STATES - 2021/04/27: The Google logo seen at the entrance to Google Cloud campus in Seattle.  Google, a division of Alphabet, announced its quarterly earnings 27th Apr 2021. (Photo by Toby Scott/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SEATTLE, UNITED STATES - 2021/04/27: The Google logo seen at the entrance to Google Cloud campus in Seattle. Google, a division of Alphabet, announced its quarterly earnings 27th Apr 2021. (Photo by Toby Scott/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Last week, however, Alphabet's shares sold off, tracking a broad move lower in ad-driven technology companies' stocks after Snap (SNAP) reported current-quarter guidance that fell far short of consensus estimates. 

In its release, Snap cited changes to Apple's iOS operating system, which allows users to adjust how apps track their data, as a major headwind to its advertiser base, since the changes impacted how advertisers can track the strength of their ad campaigns. Snap's executives also cited ongoing global supply-chain challenges as another factor impacting its results, which reduced "short-term appetite to generate additional customer demand through advertising" given already outsized demand. 

While Alphabet's advertising business may also be subject to these issues related to supply challenges, it will likely not see as notable an impact from Apple's iOS privacy changes to its advertiser base, a number of analysts said. 

"GOOGL has significant first party data across its various properties, including strong user intent in Search and to a lesser degree in YouTube," said JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth in a note ahead of Alphabet's third-quarter results. "Shortages, of course, could be a factor in 4Q given GOOGL's heavy e-commerce and overall retail exposure." 

This post is breaking. Check back for updates

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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