Take the Long View on Google's Earnings Miss

Google's margins may drop, but its profit engine is still burning bright.

Apr 17, 2014 at 10:15AM

The S&P 500 and the narrower Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) were down 0.06% and 0.08%, respectively, at 10:15 a.m. EDT. This is a huge day for corporate earnings, with Dow components General Electric, Goldman Sachs and UnitedHealth reporting today before the market opened, after fellow blue-chippers IBM and American Express rolled out their quarterly numbers following yesterday's close. I'm going to focus on another market-mover that reported yesterday afternoon, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), which is more valuable than any of those Dow blue chips.


Google missed analysts' consensus estimates for both revenue and earnings per share; to be fair, at 0.7% under, the "miss" on revenue was really more of an "in line with." Furthermore, revenue came in 19% higher than in the year-ago period (22% higher if you consider revenue net of traffic acquisition costs) -- robust growth for a company that generated more than $62 billion in revenue over the trailing 12 months.

However, that growth did not fall through to the bottom line, as adjusted EPS grew by just 4.5%. The consensus in the financial media and the analyst community appears to be that the cost of Google's ventures outside of search are starting to mount, and that they are unlikely to yield the same fat margins as its core ad search franchise. Here's The Wall Street Journal's Heard on the Street column:

But being Google is getting more expensive, as the company ventures into new areas and invests aggressively to compete with a number of rivals such as Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.com. Research-and-development spending jumped 31% year over year, which included the $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs that Google hopes will catapult it -- eventually -- into the still-nascent home-automation market.

That must be equally true of Google's "moon-shot" projects, or as Pivotal Research Group's Brian Wieser put it, "Balloons over New Zealand will also have lower profit margins." Still, as Google CFO Patrick Pichette explained during yesterday's earnings call, once you remove the one-time legal cost and the M&A cost linked to the acquisition of Nest, expenses were in line with the company's aims.

Will Google's profit margin fall over time as the company expands its portfolio of activities beyond core search? Very likely, but this quarter's results show that the search business remains extremely profitable and still has plenty of growth left. No one -- and that includes new entrants in the online advertising world such Facebook and Twitter -- is currently better positioned to capture that growth than Google. Just under 20 times next 12 months' earnings-per-share estimate doesn't seem like an absurd price for that privilege -- it certainly looks like a better deal than the S&P 500 at 15 times.

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Alex Dumortier, CFA has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google-Class C Shares and Google (A shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Google-Class C Shares and Google (A shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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