But if there's one company it needs to look out for, it's Facebook
Google on Thursday reported its second-quarter results for fiscal year 2014. We already posted a brief summary of the numbers, and now it's time to dive a bit deeper. Let's the the disclaimers out of the way: I'm a Google shareholder and have been for many years. I'm optimistic on the company's outlook and while I will continue to hold my shares (probably for many more years), I'm not recommending any specific actions to anyone else.
While Wall Street loves to micro-analyze quarterly results. I prefer to look at them in the context of long-term growth. From the angle of an investor (rather than a stock trader) I am quite satisfied with the company's performance and opportunity set going forward.
Analysts expected Google to post $15.6 billion in revenue compared to the $16 billion it actually reported. So that's a small positive surprise. But on the earnings line, analysts thought Google would post $6.24 earnings per share (EPS) while it actually posted $6.08. This is about a 3 percent shortfall relative to the best guess of the analyst community, so it's hardly a big miss. What matters to me is that Google posted 22 percent growth year-over-year. Google has been posting results like this quite consistently, which tells me Google continues to be well-managed in a world where there is plenty of opportunity for the company to take advantage of.
With most of the company's revenue coming from advertisers who pay for clicks, it's worth looking more closely at that piece of the business. The trends that we've been seeing for some time are continuing. Specifically, for Q2 F2014 Google saw an increase of 25 percent in paid clicks. The increase was concentrated towards Google's own sites (33 percent growth), while it saw less growth coming from partner sites running Adsense. Also, it was no surprise to see the revenue per paid click drop 6 percent year over year.
No, this is not a sign that advertisers are willing to pay less and less for clicks, but instead a result of device and geographic diversity. Google's growth is faster outside of its largest markets (U.S. and the UK), and paid clicks generate less revenue in emerging markets. The same goes for mobile … advertisers generally pay less for clicks coming from mobile device users, and the growth of mobile traffic is higher than growth of desktop traffic.
All things considered, Google's core advertising business seems to be doing just fine. I expect it to keep growing for many more years because the balance of ad dollars is still overweighted to old media formats including print, and to a lesser extent, TV. I think more ad dollars will continue to flow to the online channel where Google dominates.
Google's core businesses are doing fine, and Google Play is growing. But Facebook may be a growing threat.
Management didn't have too much to say about Android during the conference call, but I will note that the "other revenue" segment reached $1.6 billion for the quarter, or 10 percent of total revenue. The company commented that most of this growth was driven by the Google Play Store. This 10 percent chunk of Google's business also happens to be growing at 53 percent annually as of the most recent quarter. Not too shabby.
Looking at the stock, Google trades at about 21 times this year's forecast earnings. With the business still growing north of 20 percent I'm more than happy to hang onto my shares. With more and more ad dollars flowing to the online space and Google's other businesses showing long term promise, I feel the stock is a bargain. I don't think investors are paying anything for exposure to the Internet of Things which includes home and automotive automation.
If there is anything that worries me (even slightly), I'd say Facebook is going to give Google a run for its money in online advertising. In what seems like no time at all, Facebook has developed a very impressive ad platform. And when I'm on my mobile phone I figure I actually spend more time on Facebook than searching Google. I don't think I'm the only one, either. It took me a while, but I finally figured out that I'm best off to own shares in both companies, not just Google.
Going forward I will be paying a lot of attention to the Internet of Things. I believe it's obvious how important the industry will become, yet it's at such an early stage of growth that we aren't paying for huge expectations baked into stocks like Google.
I think Google still has loads of growth ahead.