Google parent Alphabet's (GOOGL 1.52%) (GOOG 1.71%) 20-for-1 stock split is finally complete, which means we can move on and refocus on the financials. And from that standpoint, Alphabet is one of the strongest organizations on the planet. It's still growing fast, highly profitable, and rewarding shareholders.
Shares are down 24% from the all-time highs reached late in 2021 as the market overall has been punished. But at this juncture, this tech giant looks like a lob pass of a buy. Here's why.
Part of the very fabric of the global economy
Google's core business, internet search, isn't going anywhere anytime soon. However, the way it monetizes said business -- advertising -- is undergoing some big changes. Online data privacy is finally getting some attention, and Google is slowly upgrading its model to give users some control over their information and provide a little transparency to the user data accessed by marketers.
These digital advertising industry changes could be a slight headwind to Google's growth for a while. But in addition to this, another headwind could strike Google: a recession. Marketing activity is cyclical, and an increasing number of economic indicators point toward a recession hitting later this year or in 2023. If that happens, Google's core ad revenue could take a brief stumble.
Emphasis on "brief," though. As Google has demonstrated in two economic downturns (2008-2009, and then in early 2020), digital advertising is a resilient spending category. Businesses aren't going to stop marketing for long during a recession, and ads can be turned off and back on again very quickly. Digital advertising will remain a growth industry for the foreseeable future, so any recession is likely to be just a brief blip in Alphabet's gradual revenue climb.
Of course, ads are only part of the story here. There's also YouTube and Google Cloud, also both in growth mode. And under the Alphabet umbrella are cutting-edge technology subsidiaries like the self-driving car leader Waymo. Autonomous vehicles could be just as disruptive to the world as the internet was, giving Google access to another future secular growth trend in the making.
Buy it now for the free cash flow yield and share repurchases
The best part about owning Alphabet, though, is that it's also a highly profitable company. It generated $69 billion in free cash flow over the last 12 month stretch, a nearly-26% free cash flow profit margin. The stock trades for just 19 times enterprise value to free cash flow (based on Alphabet's enterprise value of $1.32 trillion as of this writing). Talk about a value.
For investors looking for dividend income, the internet search giant doesn't check the box -- it doesn't pay a dividend. However, what it lacks in cash payout it more than makes up for in share repurchases. In the last year alone, Alphabet has repurchased over $52 billion of its own stock, returning a large amount of its free cash flow to shareholders.
This tech giant's pockets are incredibly deep, too, with nearly $125 billion in cash and short-term investments net of debt on balance. It has room to repurchase a lot more stock for years to come.
Alphabet is already a titan, so this won't be the fastest growing stock out there. But this company has all the ingredients to be a market-beating investment over the next decade. If you're looking for a stock to start building a portfolio around, Alphabet is a wonderful buy right now.