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Alphabet’s EU fine will overshadow its second-quarter earnings

In other news, Google is rebounding from the YouTube ads boycott.

EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager onstage
European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager
Via YouTube

When Alphabet reports its second-quarter earnings Monday, the elephant in the room will be the recent $2.7 billion fine from European regulators for anticompetitive behavior.

While the European Union’s punishment over Google’s shopping feature may be a small bill for a company with a market value of $679 billion, it’s what the fine could mean for how Alphabet operates not just in Europe but in the U.S. that matters. There could be bigger changes to come in addition to the fine, in other words.

Alphabet is expected to appeal the ruling, but analysts will certainly ask how the company feels about its chances facing further antitrust complaints. The fine will also impact earnings for the quarter, ringing up a charge of $2.7 billion for the June period.

Wall Street has adjusted its estimates based on those fines. Goldman Sachs, for example, cut its forecast for Alphabet’s profit by almost half to $4.60 a share from $8.64 a share to account for the one-time loss.

Prior to the fine, the Street was looking for earnings of about $8.25 a share on $25.6 billion in sales.

The EU is also requiring Google to change the shopping feature. But it’s not clear what those changes may be or what they could cost Google going forward.

Google could return to an earlier version of the shopping feature for users in Europe. Analysts at Credit Suisse have also said the company could reduce the number of paid shopping ads in the feature to make room for free results.

But Alphabet won’t want to make any permanent changes that result in a loss of advertising revenue, and executives may share details Monday about any plans to fight the EU ruling.

Another controversy that had investors antsy, the YouTube ads boycott, has basically blown over. Credit Suisse said advertisers that suspended spending in the first quarter shifted that money over the second-quarter ad purchases.

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