Morgan Stanley sees Alphabet Search results having a positive read-through for Facebook and Amazon
Shares of Alphabet (GOOGL) are on the rise on Wednesday after the company reported big beats on both its top and bottom lines for its first quarter. Google's parent said revenue rose 34% from a year earlier, and announced a new $50B stock buyback. Following the news, several Wall Street analysts raised their price targets on the stock, with Piper Sandler analyst Thomas Champion calling the quarter "impressive" and his peer at Oppenheimer arguing that Alphabet is well positioned to benefit from reopening tailwinds.
RESULTS: Alphabet reported first quarter earnings per share of $26.29 and revenue of $55.3B, both above consensus of $15.82 and $51.7B, respectively. The company reported first quarter Google advertising revenue of $44.68B versus $33.76B a year ago, YouTube ads revenue of $6.0B versus $4.0B in same quarter of the prior year, Google Cloud revenue of $4.05B versus $2.78B a year ago, and Traffic Acquisition Costs of $9.71B versus $7.45B a year ago.
Along with its earnings release on Tuesday, Alphabet reported that on April 23, its board of directors authorized the company to repurchase up to an additional $50.0B of its Class C capital stock. The repurchases are expected to be executed from time to time, subject to general business and market conditions and other investment opportunities, through open market purchases or privately negotiated transactions, including through Rule 10b5-1 plans.
'IMPRESSIVE' FIRST QUARTER: Piper Sandler analyst Thomas Champion raised the firm's price target on Alphabet to $2,635 from $2,250 and reiterated an Overweight rating on the shares after the company reported an "impressive" first quarter print. Core search and YouTube numbers were strong, while cloud grew 46% year-over-year, the analyst said.
Barclays analyst Ross Sandler also raised the firm's price target on Alphabet to $3,000 from $2,500 and kept an Overweight rating on the shares. The analyst highlighted that Search and YouTube continue to see significant share shift from other advertising channels, as evidenced by accelerating growth on both a one-year and two-year stacked basis, "putting to bed any concerns about Google's high penetration."
Following quarterly results, Oppenheimer analyst Jason Helfstein also raised his price target on Alphabet to $2,510 from $2,350, while keeping an Outperform rating on the shares. The analyst believes Alphabet is well positioned to benefit from reopening tailwinds. While details are always limited, management highlighted strength of retail/shopping ads, with resurgence in travel activity, he added, pointing out that YouTube is benefiting from linear TV budgets shifting online to more performance-based ads.
Meanwhile, Jefferies analyst Brent Thill raised the firm's price target on Alphabet to $2,850 from $2,700 and kept a Buy rating on the shares following what he calls the company's second consecutive "big" quarter and ahead of what he expects will be "a third up next" given his view that upcoming second quarter comps are "very easy." The analyst is modeling year-over-year growth of 44% for total gross revenue, 46% for Search, 40% for Network, and 64% for YouTube ads in the second quarter.
JMP Securities, MoffettNathanson, Deutsche Bank, Truist, Raymond James, JPMorgan, KeyBanc, Susquehanna, Cowen, Canaccord, Wells Fargo, Monness Crespi, Credit Suisse, BMO Capital, and Wedbush also raised their price targets on the name.
POSITIVE READ FOR FACEBOOK, AMAZON: Keeping an Overweight rating on the shares, Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak raised the firm's price target on Alphabet to $2,575 from $2,350. Search revenue growth accelerated to 30% year-over-year in the first quarter, which was 8% better than expected, the analyst noted. Nowak thinks this speaks to the company's "still-strong position at the top of the e-commerce funnel" as well as the broader strength of e-commerce and the structural shift of consumer time and dollars online. He sees Google's Search results having a positive read-through for Facebook (FB) and Amazon advertising (AMZN) as well as a positive read across to other e-commerce players.
PRICE ACTION: In morning trading, shares of Alphabet have gained over 4% to $2,402.99.