Earnings season is on the horizon, and companies are putting dates on their earnings reports. One notable tech giant that recently scheduled its first-quarter earnings report is online search king Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL). When the Google parent reports earnings next month, investors will be looking to see whether the company can keep up its strong growth, which has featured three quarters in a row of accelerating year-over-year revenue growth rates between the first quarter of 2017 and the third quarter of 2017 and 24% growth in Q4 -- in line with the 24% revenue growth seen in Q3.
Ahead of Alphabet's first-quarter earnings release on April 23, here's an early look at the key items investors should check in on.
Revenue and earnings-per-share growth
In Alphabet's fourth quarter, the company reported revenue of $32.3 billion, up 24% from the year-ago quarter. During this same period, Alphabet's earnings per share soared 28% year over year to $9.70 -- when excluding the impact of the Tax Act during the quarter.
With such strong growth in Alphabet's top and bottom line in the rearview mirror, investors will likely be looking for more strong performance in Q1.
Analysts, on average, expect Alphabet to report revenue and earnings per share of $30.3 billion and $9.33, up about 23% and 21% from the year-ago quarter, respectively.
Alphabet's "Google other" segment
Though Alphabet's business is primarily made up of revenue from online search and YouTube, Alphabet's "Google other" revenue, or revenue from the Android app store, Google Cloud, and Google-branded hardware is growing as a percentage of revenue, thanks to the segment's rapid growth
In Alphabet's fourth quarter, Google other revenue accounted for about 15% of total revenue, up from 13% of revenue in the year-ago quarter. This was achieved thanks to 38% year-over-year growth in Google other revenue during the period.
A key question regarding Alphabet's Google other revenue going into Alphabet's first-quarter earnings release will be whether growth in this segment decelerates again. In Alphabet's fourth quarter, Google other's 38% year-over-year growth was actually down from 40% growth in Q3 and 42% growth in Q2.
Furthermore, Alphabet management has repeatedly said its strong growth in Google other revenue has been driven by growth from all three of the segment's main components: hardware, cloud, and the app store. With broad-based growth like this, any deceleration in growth will likely be moderate.
Alphabet recently gave investors a rare update on its Google Cloud revenue, which management says primarily consists of revenue from the Google Cloud platform and G Suite, noting that Google Cloud is now a $1 billion per quarter business. Furthermore, management said it believes its Google Cloud platform is "the fastest growing, major, public cloud provider in the world."
For some context, this compares to Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) quarterly revenue for Amazon Web Services of about $5 billion. In addition, if Google Cloud is the fastest growing platform, it would have to be growing faster than the 45% and 98% year-over-year growth seen in Amazon's AWS and Microsoft's Azure platforms in the three months ending Dec. 31, 2017.
In Alphabet's first-quarter update, look for more optimistic commentary from management on the trajectory of its cloud business.
Overall, when Alphabet reports its first quarter, investors should look for Alphabet to continue to demonstrate its ability to consistently grow both its core business and its more nascent areas like hardware, cloud, and the Android app store.