Alphabet/Google overtakes Apple as biggest company

In early trade, Alphabet shares rose 2.9 per cent to lift its market capitalisation to US$543 billion (S$775 billion). PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Alphabet, the parent firm for Google, became the world's most valuable company on Tuesday as a jump in its share price helped it vault past tech rival Apple.

In opening trade following a robust earnings report, Alphabet shares rose 2.9 per cent to lift its market capitalisation to US$543 billion (S$775 billion) while Apple's value declined to US$530 billion with a modest dip in trading.

Alphabet's quarterly profit rose 5 percent to US$4.92 billion on the back of strong online advertising revenue, particularly from searches done by holiday season shoppers using smartphones or tablets.

Google ad revenue climbed globally, gaining on both mobile devices and desktop computers, according to Alphabet chief financial officer Ruth Porat.

The California-based Internet colossus said its revenue topped US$21.3 billion in the final three months of last year.

The earnings report was the first in which recently formed parent corporation Alphabet separated money made by Google from what it calls "Other Bets" such as its work on self-driving cars or providing Internet service using high-altitude balloons.

The new structure under Alphabet is expected to offer more transparency for investors worried about Google investing in money-losing projects.

While Google is best known as the dominant player in Internet search, it has launched a variety of trailblazing projects in recent years that are marginally related at best to its core operation.

Alphabet subsidiaries include Google, Nest Labs, and Google X labs devoted to big-vision new technologies such as self-driving cars, along with such projects as smart "Google Glass" spectacles, drones, health care and Google TV - none of which has become a major source of income.

Industry tracker eMarketer expected Google to remain the dominant player in worldwide search advertising, raking in US$45.58 billion in revenue this year to claim a share just shy of 57 per cent of total spending on such ads.

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