Alphabet Q1 earnings miss despite in-line revenue

Google’s parent company Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGLE) reported first-quarter sales that were roughly in-line with estimates, with the tech giant showing resilience in its key search advertising and cloud businesses. However, earnings came in lower-than-expected as costs mounted, and growth in the tech behemoth’s YouTube business slowed sharply compared to last year.

Shares of Alphabet dropped more than 4.5% in late trading following the results.

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

  • Revenue, excluding traffic-acquisition costs: $56.02 billion vs. $56.07 billion expected

  • Earnings per share: $24.62vs. $25.71 expected

Heading into the report, investors were focused on the strength in Alphabet’s core Google search advertising business. This unit has been boosted over the past year as mobility ramped back up and businesses increased their marketing spend. However, that pickup last year has also created tougher comparisons for Alphabet to exceed this year in its top-line results.

For the first quarter, Google advertising revenue grew about 22% to reach $54.66 billion, topping consensus expectations for $54.12 billion. However, YouTube advertising revenue grew just 14% to reach $6.87 billion, coming up short of estimates for $7.4 billion. This unit had been a faster-growing segment of the company in recent quarters, and in the same period last year, grew revenue by nearly 49%.

For YouTube specifically, increased competition from social media companies and a bevy of new streaming platforms has further created risks to future growth. In a note published ahead of Tuesday’s earnings results, a Cowen survey found that ByteDance-owned TikTok has been picking up share from YouTube among 18- to 24-year-olds.

“YouTube led all platforms in 1Q22 when respondents were asked which platform they used ‘most often’ for mobile video, but YouTube dropped to 35% of respondents vs. 45% in 1Q21, while TikTok was #2 with 22%,” John Blackledge , a Cowen analyst, wrote in a note.

Google website displayed on a phone and a computer scteens are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on April 6, 2022. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Google website displayed on a phone and a computer scteens are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on April 6, 2022. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Still, Alphabet has been expanding its efforts in the cloud to offset slowing growth elsewhere. Google Cloud, while still smaller than incumbents like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, has been growing quickly, but still remains unprofitable. The unit grew sales 43% for the first quarter to reach $5.8 billion, which was about in-line with expectations. However, operating losses were wider-than-expected at $931 million, whereas Wall Street was looking for a loss of $893.2 million.

“Our view is on the cloud side of things, they could grow the top line on the cloud north of 30% here well through 2023, and then we’ll kind of see what happens thereafter,” Angelo Zino, CFRA Research senior equity analyst , told Yahoo Finance Live on Tuesday. “The other side of this is they’re investing aggressively on the cloud, and that’s clearly having an impact in terms of the free cash flow numbers as well as the higher expenses and the margin compression we’re seeing not only in that segment but in the broader business.”

Big Tech and eleven other high-flying growth stocks have been pressured so far this year amid prospects of higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve, which would raise borrowing costs and weigh on the valuations of those companies. Alphabet shares have fallen 18% year-to-date through Tuesday’s close, while the S&P 500 has declined 12% over the same period.

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

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