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Alphabet (GOOGL) and Microsoft (MSFT) Shares Fall on Earnings Misses

After the bell Thursday, top technology firms Alphabet (GOOGL), Google's parent company, and Microsoft (MSFT) reported Q1 and Q3 earnings results, respectively. Late trading is treating neither of these stocks kindly at this hour, so let's see what's inside...

Alphabet reported earnings of $6.02 per share (accounting for stock-based compensation and other BNRI) on $16.47 billion in revenues (minus traffic acquisition costs [TAC]), amounting to a miss on the earnings side -- $6.36 per share had been expected -- but a beat on revenues, easily topping our expected $15.51 billion. Yet the stock has fallen precipitously in the after-market, down 5 percent as of this writing.

On first glance, we see plenty for GOOGL investors to be happy with -- 17 percent year-over-year revenue growth, aggregate paid clicks up 29 percent and aggregate cost-per-click down 9 percent. But paid clicks missed the 31 percent growth expected and fell 3 percent quarter over quarter. Q4 2015 for Alphabet was, you'll recall, a real blowout quarter; perhaps investors were expecting another massive beat?

Perhaps, and one might say GOOGL shares, up 46.4 percent in the past year prior to the Q1 earnings report, was priced for near-perfection. That the company is still putting up growth numbers strongly in double-digits -- and its better-than-expected revenues point toward margins being squeezed -- is apparently not enough, although GOOGL shares have buoyed off the lows this after-market at this stage.

The margin squeezing may be a result of Alphabet's "Other Bets" segment, where the company R&D's myriad projects under the sun. Spending on Other Bets reached $166 million in the quarter, more than doubling the $80 million spent a year ago on this venture segment. Perhaps investors are insisting CFO Ruth Poirot and the rest of the team grab a firmer hold on earnings results going forward.

Microsoft missed fiscal Q3 earnings expectations by a penny at 62 cents per share. But revenues of $22.1 billion beat the Zacks consensus estimate of $21.6 billion. CFO Amy Hood remarked on Microsoft's "solid results this quarter," and its cloud-computing platform Azure grew more than 100 percent in constant currency year over year. Yet it, too, has traded down 5 percent in the late market -- perhaps also a victim of its +34 percent year-over-year share growth.
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