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Stock Market News: Alphabet Tells All; Clorox Cleans Up

By Dan Caplinger – Feb 4, 2020 at 2:04PM

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The stock market soared on Tuesday morning, reassured about China's future prospects.

Tuesday morning looked like a celebration on Wall Street, as investors across the globe took comfort in the fact that Chinese stock markets didn't continue their precipitous plunge. Although the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, market participants appear more confident of a favorable outcome despite short-term disruptions. As of 11 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -2.11%) was up 444 points to 28,844. The S&P 500 (^GSPC -2.80%) rose 49 points to 3,298, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC -3.80%) was higher by 152 points to 9,426.

Earnings reports continued to come in, and they produced mixed results for different stocks. Alphabet (GOOGL -2.70%) (GOOG -2.61%) suffered declines after disappointing its shareholders, but Clorox (CLX -3.31%) delivered a much cleaner report that made investors feel good about the consumer-goods giant.

Investors learn more about Alphabet

Shares of Alphabet fell 4% Tuesday morning, following Monday night's release of fiscal fourth-quarter earnings. The tech giant continued to see fundamental growth, but its disclosure of more specific information about some of its business units created some concerns among investors.

Glass office building with Google logo on side, and garden in front.

Image source: Alphabet.

Alphabet's headline numbers were a mixed bag for those following the Google parent. Revenue climbed 17% year over year, but that was a couple percentage points less than most investors had hoped to see. A 20% gain in earnings per share surpassed expectations significantly, though, which some saw as softening the blow from the revenue shortfall.

More interesting were Alphabet's internal breakdowns across business lines. YouTube saw annual ad revenue climb 31% from the prior-year period to $4.7 billion during the quarter, while Google's cloud business saw a 53% jump from year-ago levels to $2.6 billion. Although those growth rates were solid, they raised concerns that Alphabet won't be able to catch up with its primary rivals, especially in cloud services.

Alphabet has plans to accelerate its future growth, including significant investment in its cloud platform. Yet for now, it'll be up to Alphabet to prove to its shareholders that it has what it takes to remain an important player in the industry's fastest-growing areas.

A squeaky-clean quarter for Clorox

Clorox saw its stock gain 4% after releasing a solid financial report for its fiscal second quarter. The bleach maker also saw even better times ahead.

Clorox's results did show some of the challenges that the consumer goods industry has gone through lately. Revenue was down 2%, with organic sales coming in flat after adjusting for the downward impact of the strong U.S. dollar on the currency markets. Household segment sales hit Clorox hard, with particularly significant losses related to the company's bag and wrap products.

However, there were many things to be excited about in Clorox's report. Earnings climbed 4% on a per-share basis from the year-ago period, and significant growth in the lifestyle segment showed increased popularity in brands like Burt's Bees and Brita. Looking ahead, Clorox boosted its full-year outlook slightly, with organic sales expected to come in flat to up 2%. Earnings projections of $6.10 to $6.25 per share reflected a $0.05 per share increase to the bottom end of the previous range.

Clorox has worked hard to cut costs and spur growth, and those efforts appear to be taking hold. It'll take more time to make a full turnaround, but shareholders are confident that Clorox is on the right path to restoring its track record of success.

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares) and Alphabet (C shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
$98.68 (-2.70%) $-2.74
Clorox Stock Quote
$125.76 (-3.31%) $-4.31
Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
$99.57 (-2.61%) $-2.67
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
$29,296.79 (-2.11%) $-630.15
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
$3,639.66 (-2.80%) $-104.86
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
$10,652.40 (-3.80%) $-420.91

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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