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Alphabet (Google) Hands Investors a Beat on Earnings and $5 Billion in Stock Buyback (Liveblog)

A long awaited buy back.


Wall Street is going to be very happy with Alphabet.

On Thursday, Google’s holding company reported its third-quarter earnings, with revenue and earnings slightly above expectations. The bigger news tucked in the release: The company finally issued a major buyback, some $5 billion, to shareholders, what investors have demanded for years.

From the release: “The board of directors of Alphabet authorized the company to repurchase up to $5,099,019,513.59 of its Company’s Class C capital stock, commencing in the fourth quarter of 2015.”

This is the first report under its new name, Alphabet, and the last before it breaks its core business — search, ads, Android, Chrome, cloud — from the other subsidiaries in its reporting, starting in the fourth quarter. The company announced today it will report Google’s business as a single segment with the remaining Alphabet businesses in a separate line called “Other Bets.”

The other numbers: Sales, minus partner site payouts, of $15.1 billion on $7.35 earnings per share. Wall Street was looking for something about that on revenue on $7.21 earnings per share.

The stock ran up around 9.8 percent in after-hours trading.

Investors will also parse the few metrics Google typically releases on its business, namely the volume of advertisers buying paid clicks and how much they’re paying. Also, investors will look closely at capital expenditure and overall headcount. Those may be rough proxies for the cost of the Alphabet moonshots, coming next quarter, as well as signs of the expected financial discipline of CFO Ruth Porat, now in her second earnings call at Google.

So, how did Alphabet do?

  • Ads business:

Paid clicks went up around 23 percent, although cost-per-clicks fell 11 percent, the same as last quarter.

  • Spending:

It dropped again. Capital expenditures is at $2.37 billion, down from $2.41 billion last year.

  • Alphabeters:

Alphabet added around 2,000 new employees, reaching 59,976.

This report also marks the debut of new CEO Sundar Pichai on the investor call. He will join Porat, who joined in May and has, thus far, premiered as a Wall Street darling.

Safe to assume the pair will talk through some new products from the last three months, like Google’s new ad products on YouTube and search, the release of the Android Marshmallow operating system and its lynchpin feature, Now on Tap. Pichai will also probably go over product milestones Google has publicly announced: 1.4 billion active Android users, 400 million for Chrome mobile users, 100 million for Photos and 100 billion links within apps indexed for search.

We’ll be tuned into the call and will share the best parts below.

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