Google (GOOG) saw interesting Q1 earnings when it reported results in April. GOOG stock initially tanked by double digits in a few weeks … but then after the negativity of Google earnings faded and the market got some mojo back in May, the tech giant snapped back strongly.
Now, as we approach Q2 Google earnings on Thursday, July 17, GOOG stock is once again challenging all-time highs (split adjusted, of course) that were set back in March.
That means there’s a lot riding on the upcoming Google earnings report.
But what should investors expect? For my money, I’m a buyer of GOOG stock. Here’s why:
Google Earnings vs. Long-Term Potential
Admittedly, Google earnings haven’t been grand lately, as online advertising rates have been challenged. For instance, in Q1 Wall Street was expecting Google to hit earnings of $6.33 per share and revenue of $15.58 billion, but GOOG stock missed the market on both counts.
Sure, revenue was up about 19% year-over-year … but lately among tech stocks, it has been about validating expectations much more than simply validating growth.
The big culprit again was cost-per-click metrics, which measure the amount of money Google gets to charge for its ads. They dropped 9%, after previous declines over the last few quarters as well.
This is a big headwind and there are reasons to expect a little more trouble this time around.
However, I’m convinced that a lot of the ad negativity is behind us and that Google has a tremendous amount of long-term potential.
Here are a few highlights:
Mobile OS domination: Google’s Android OS was present on 79% of worldwide smartphone shipments in 2013, per Strategy Analytics. That’s a massive number, and gives Google a great platform to grow and find new revenue opportunities in the age of mobile. Its Google Play app and content marketplace was making $12 million per day at the end of 2013, up 240% from $3.5 million at the end of 2012! Critics will point out that’s still considerably short of the $18 million per day that Apple (AAPL) makes via its App store, and on a smaller number of devices running iOS to boot. However, the momentum is clearly on Google’s side, and it has the sheer dominance of Android to thank for that.
Cash king: With roughly $60 billion in cash and investments on the books and operating cash flow of more than $18 billion last year, there are few companies on Wall Street more stable than Google. But it’s not just stability that investors should be attracted to. With a history of ambitious acquisitions for both technology and talent, Google is agile and has deep enough pockets to be seen as a serious competitor in almost any field of technology.
“Other” ideas: Google has made a host of acquisitions recently in the realm of robotics and has made much hay with its prototype of a self-driving car. However, while these initiatives are clearly speculative, many ideas like Internet access via Google Fiber are not — and they are driving real revenue right now. Just look at the “other” line on the tech giant’s revenue breakdown. Sales in this category more than doubled from 2012 to 2013, going from a little less than $2.4 billion to almost $5 billion. Furthermore, those “other” revenues are more than triple the $1.4 billion from fiscal 2011. That trend should only grow, considering first-quarter “other” revenue totaled over $1.5 billion. Sure, Google is an advertising powerhouse and relies heavily on that arm of the business now, but the company is growing and evolving ambitiously, and many of these projects are starting to deliver material revenue.
The bottom line to me is that these three big pros will continue to drive Google’s success in the medium term and long term.
I don’t feel strongly either way about Google earnings, particularly considering how GOOG stock snapped right back after an initially poor reception last quarter.
I would, however, recommend buying Google stock under $600 as a long-term investment.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com and the author of The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP.