Alphabet Reports Big Earnings Beat as Revenue Grows 34%

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  • Alphabet reported big beats on earnings and revenue for Q1.
  • The stock rose more than 4% in after-hours trading.
  • YouTube ad revenue grew nearly 50% year over year.

Alphabet reported huge beats on its top and bottom lines for its first quarter of 2021, as well as a new $50 billion stock buyback, which boosted the shares more than 4% in after-hours trading.

Here's how Google's parent company fared in the quarter relative to what Wall Street analysts polled by Refinitiv expected:

  • Earnings: $26.29 per share vs. $15.82 per share expected
  • Revenue: $55.31 billion vs. $51.70 billion expected
  • Google Cloud revenue: $4.05 billion vs. $4.07 billion, according to FactSet estimates.
  • YouTube ads: $6.01 billion vs. $5.70 billion, according to StreetAccount.
  • Traffic Acquisition Costs (TAC): $9.71 billion  vs. $9.25 billion, according to FactSet estimates.

Google's revenue rose 34% from the same period a year prior. The company reported advertising revenue of $44.68 billion for the quarter. That's a significant rise from $33.76 billion in the same quarter last year, making it the fastest annualized growth rate in at least four years, although the results were boosted by an easy comparable with last year's quarter, as the onset of the coronavirus pandemic caused a steep drop in advertising spend.

YouTube ads came in at $6.01 billion during the quarter — a 49% rise from year ago.

YouTube became the winner of the pandemic in terms of social media sites, according to a recent Pew report, which said the video platform saw usage grow from 73% of U.S. adults in 2019 to 81% in 2021.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said on the company's earnings call that YouTube's TikTok competitor Shorts is garnering 6.5 billion daily views, a significant increase from 3.5 billion at the end of January.

Google Cloud revenue grew 46% year over year to $4.05 billion, which was in line with Wall Street's expectations. It lost $974 million during the quarter, significantly narrowing losses from the same period a year ago. Google Cloud includes infrastructure and data analytics platforms, collaboration tools such as Google Docs and Sheets, and "other services for enterprise customers."

During the quarter, the company also recorded a $4.84 billion gain in the value of certain investments. (This was offset by a loss of $86 million in the value of other unspecified investments, for a total net gain of $4.75 billion.) It did not disclose which investments drove the gain, but UiPath, Stripe and Oscar Health are all likely contributors. The company does not wait until it sells shares to recognize a gain, but instead uses "various valuation methodologies" to make "upward and downward adjustments to the carrying value of our equity securities as a result of observable price changes."

The company's "Other Bets" segment, which includes its health tech unit Verily and autonomous-vehicle bet Waymo, lost $1.15 billion on revenue of $198 million.

Alphabet's board approved an additional stock repurchase of up to $50 billion on April 23, Tuesday's filing stated.

In March, Google announced a $7 billion investment toward expanding offices and data centers across 19 states, creating what will amount to at least 10,000 full-time jobs. That came as the company doubled down on bringing its workforce back to physical offices after the pandemic. On the company's earnings call, CFO Ruth Porat reiterated is commitment to building and retrofitting offices.

"Even with a hybrid work environment, we will continue to need space, so we're continuing to build out our campuses and office facilities," Porat said. She added the company expects to "pick up the pace" on real estate spending later this year as it outfits its campuses for the new hybrid work environment.

-- CNBC's Jessica Bursztynsky contributed to this report.

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