Alphabet on course to be world's most valuable company

Alphabet's strong quarterly report on Monday (Feb 1) put it on track to be the world's most valuable company. PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE) - Alphabet, the new parent firm for Google, pushed into record territory on Monday (Feb 1) as a strong quarterly report put it on track to be the world's most valuable company.

Alphabet reported quarterly profit rose five percent to US$4.92 billion (S$7 billion) on the back of strong online advertising revenue.

The California-based Internet colossus said its revenue topped US$21.3 billion (S$30.3 billion) in the final three months of last year.

Alphabet shares jumped more than five per cent to US$794 on earnings figures that beat expectations.

If those gains hold in official trading, Alphabet would overtake Apple as the world's biggest company by market value.

At the official close of trade, Apple was worth US$534.7 billion based on its share value to US$530.1 billion for Alphabet.

"Our very strong revenue growth in Q4 reflects the vibrancy of our business, driven by mobile search as well as YouTube and programmatic advertising, all areas in which we've been investing for many years," Alphabet chief financial officer Ruth Porat said in the earnings release.

"We're excited about the opportunities we have across Google and Other Bets to use technology to improve the lives of billions of people."

The earnings report was the first in which recently formed parent corporation Alphabet separated money made by Google from "other bets" such as its work on self-driving cars or delivering Internet using high-altitude balloons.

Alphabet's earnings listed a loss of about US$3.6 billion last year in a consolidated "other bets" category that brought in US$448 million in revenue.

Alphabet reported that its overall revenue for last year rose to US$74.5 billion from US$65.7 billion in 2014.

Alphabet subsidiaries include Google, Nest Labs, and Google X labs devoted to big-vision new technologies such as self-driving cars.

The move unveiled last year gives the tech giant more ability to focus on its core business, while offering start-up-like flexibility to long-shot, trailblazing projects. While Google is best known as the dominant player in Internet search, it has launched a variety of projects in recent years that are marginally related at best to its core operation.

Beyond the self-driving cars and Internet balloons, the projects include smart Google Glass spectacles, drones, healthcare and Google TV - none of which have become a major source of income. The new structure under Alphabet is expected to offer more transparency for investors worried about Google investing in money-losing projects.

Google has refined the online search ad business to become hugely profitable, but analysts say the company needs to diversify as technology moves away from the personal computer to mobile apps, wearables and other "Internet of Things" connected devices.

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