Stock splits have been in vogue over the past couple of years, fueled by a bull run that drove up the prices of some of the world's most recognizable companies. One such household name is tech giant Alphabet (GOOGL 0.95%) (GOOG 0.97%). Earlier this year, the parent of the even more ubiquitously known Google announced a 20-for-1 stock split that caused many investors to give the company a fresh look.
Yet to define Alphabet by its stock split would be to miss out on a laundry list of products and services -- each of which is part of a growing web of interconnected pieces that comprise an even greater whole. Peeling back the layers of Alphabet's business reveals a host of reasons investors should buy its stock now and never sell.
1. The elephant in the room
I'd be remiss if I didn't spend just a minute talking about Google Search. It controls a dominant 91% of worldwide search traffic -- no other search engine even comes close. As a result, it also provides 58% of Alphabet's revenue.
Google Search generated more than $40 billion in revenue in the second quarter. And perhaps even more impressive than the raw magnitude of that figure is that it amounted to 14% year-over-year growth.
2. Partly cloudy
The digital transformation of the business world really gathered steam in recent years, led by the growing adoption of cloud computing. It didn't take Google Cloud long to ascend into the ranks of the Big Three cloud providers. (Amazon's AWS and Microsoft's Azure are the other two.) In fact, Google Cloud is the company's fastest-growing segment, albeit from a smaller base, with revenue up 36% year over year in the second quarter.
Furthermore, Google Cloud controls just 8% of the market, giving it a much greater opportunity to steal share from Azure and AWS, which control 31% and 24% of the market, respectively, according to Canalys.
3. Billions (and billions) of users
One of the defining characteristics of Alphabet's business is its massive user base. Having a captive audience in the billions gives the company an advantage that's second to none. In fact, Alphabet has nine products that boast more than 1 billion users each: Android, Chrome, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Maps, Google Search, Photos, Google Play Store, and YouTube.
Many of these products are intertwined in its ecosystem in a way that makes it unlikely that users will casually drop them in favor of rival options. For example, people who buy smartphones that use the Android operating system are more likely to use Google Maps as their default route-planning platform.
4. Streaming, anyone?
If you ask most people to name the first streaming video business, many would instinctively answer Netflix. Yet in reality, YouTube's ubiquitous video platform began offering streaming services in 2005, preceding Netflix's entry into that business by roughly two years. Not only that, YouTube short videos are watched by more than 1.5 billion signed-in users every month, resulting in more than 30 billion daily views -- giving Alphabet huge incremental reach.
There's more. YouTube TV, the company's streaming service that offers video on demand (VoD) and broadcast television from more than 100 networks, surpassed 5 million subscribers in the second quarter.
All in all, YouTube's advertising revenue clocked in at $7.3 billion in the second quarter, making its business the size of a Fortune 500 company.
5. Driving into the future
While some of the novelty of autonomous vehicle technology may have worn off, it still has the potential to revolutionize the world. Alphabet was among the first to pursue the self-driving car, with its efforts tucked away among the other moonshot projects in its Google X Research Lab. The unit developing that technology was eventually spun out and now operates as a stand-alone company within Alphabet dubbed Waymo.
The company's driverless taxi service continues to expand: Most recently, it added downtown Phoenix and Sky Harbor International Airport to the growing list of locations where it's testing the technology. So far, its vehicles have logged more than 20 million autonomous miles. At the same time, Via -- its autonomous trucking solution -- is operating in a growing list of states, and has inked deals with a number of freight and logistics companies.
Alphabet continues to expand the deployment of its self-driving solution at a snail's pace, which is understandable, given the newness of the technology and its long-term implications. Furthermore, Waymo isn't yet profitable, and the full potential for these self-driving vehicles may be years, if not decades, away. Still, if the science eventually catches up with the science fiction, Alphabet is well-positioned to profit.
It all adds up
The combination of these segments adds up to more than the sum of its parts, as the old saying goes. And that business diversity helped drive Alphabet's revenue up by 17% year over year during the first half of 2022 to nearly $138 billion, even in the face of macroeconomic headwinds.
Additionally, given the breadth of its business interests, Alphabet has tons of optionality -- or lots of ways to win -- giving investors a margin of safety that would be hard for other companies to duplicate. Yet despite all that potential, Alphabet is currently trading for roughly 20 times earnings. Its valuation hasn't been that low since 2014.
The stock split may have stirred up interest in the Google parent, but there are plenty of far better reasons to buy Alphabet stock and never sell.