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Alphabet Stock Remains a Winning Pick Despite Ad Slowdown

Everybody knows Google and its parent company, Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL). Google is the dominant internet search engine in the space, the dominant digital advertising company and a daily presence in the life of nearly every American.

GOOG Stock: Alphabet Remains a Winning Pick Despite Ad Slowdown

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Google is so dominant, in fact, that its very name is synonymous with the internet and turning into a verb by itself. People don’t say, “Look it up on the internet.” They say, “just Google it.”

Despite of — or perhaps because of — its size, Alphabet is getting slapped around a bit this quarter along with the rest of the digital advertising space. Companies aren’t spending money on ads during the novel coronavirus because many of them are shut down.

And that’s hurting the bottom line for GOOG stock.

But fortunately, Alphabet is taking some steps to alleviate the problem — just in time for the company to announce quarterly earnings on April 28.

Here’s a closer look at how GOOG stock is shaping up.

Alphabet at a Glance

Alphabet stock actually trades in two share classes. GOOGL represents Alphabet’s Class A shares and is what’s known as common stock. Holding one share of GOOGL gives you one vote at Alphabet’s shareholder meeting.

On the other hand, GOOG stock falls under the Class C share classification. While the price of GOOG and GOOGL are similar, you don’t have any voting rights in holding GOOG stock. You’re just along for the ride.

So for the sake of simplicity, we’ll focus on the Class C GOOG shares that are more well-known. GOOG stock has been a long-term star on Wall Street, one of the famed FANG stocks that represents the top technology companies in the U.S.

The stock is up 115% over the last five years and actually hit all-time highs in March of more than $1,500 before the coronavirus downturn. Year-to-date, GOOG shows a loss of 9%, which is still better than the S&P 500’s loss of 15.3%.

Looking closer, you can see that GOOG stock is an absolute monster. Carrying a market capitalization of $834 billion, the company brings in quarter revenue growth of 17.3% on a year-over-year basis. It holds nearly $120 billion in cash, with less than $16 billion in debt.

So a temporary downturn isn’t going to damage the stock. And it has plenty of cash to absorb a smaller firm that it’s always had its eye on, such as struggling rideshare company Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT).

Finally, it’s surprisingly affordable, with a trailing price-earnings ratio of 26.1 and a forward P/E of 27.2.

GOOG Stock and the Coronavirus

Google was the biggest seller of digital advertising in the world last year, grabbing 31.1% of global ad spending to top Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and China’s Alibaba (NYSE:BABA).

But being the biggest also means taking the biggest hit in a downturn. The travel industry accounts for 10% of Google’s ad revenue, or 10.7 billion in 2019, and that industry alone is projected to cut $3 billion in ads in Q2.

Then add restaurants and other companies to that list, and you can see why some analysts are expecting GOOG to suffer at least in the first half of the year.

But Alphabet is taking steps to alleviate the problem.

For one, the company has a longstanding policy not to sell advertising about events that are considered sensitive — and there are few things these days as sensitive as a global pandemic that has killed more than 175,000 people around the world.

But now Alphabet has decided to allow some advertisers, including politicians, to run COVID-19 ads on Google platforms, which include its search engine and YouTube.

“Coronavirus has become an ongoing and important part of everyday conversation, including a relevant topic in political discourse and for many advertisers in different sectors,” Google said in a memo that was obtained by Axios.

While the change won’t impact every business right away, Google says it will consider allowing brands and private companies to also run coronavirus ads. Doing so will help Google advertising close its gap heading into the second quarter.

And Citi analyst Jason Bazinet says he expects Google to recover quickly — or at least, quicker than Facebook:

“We expect Google to have a greater near-term disadvantage but also have a faster recovery as pandemic effects reduce … We believe Alphabet will be more resilient vs. Facebook in weathering the advertising decline due to its lower exposure to the [small business] advertiser base.”

The Bottom Line on GOOG Stock

The best thing about Alphabet is it’s not a one-trick pony. While I’ve focused a lot on its advertising business here, Google is also expanding into non-advertising sectors. Its Google Hangouts meeting space is a solid alternative to Zoom (NASDAQ:ZM), which is struggling with user load during the coronavirus.

Google is also investing heavily in its Cloud business and making inroads in artificial intelligence through Waymo, its autonomous driving venture.

It’s even in the streaming video game, providing original content on YouTube to compete with Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Disney (NYSE:DIS).

Alphabet’s solid history of profitability, its No. 1 position in internet search and digital advertising and its focus on artificial intelligence makes GOOG stock a winner in my book. And the stock has a strong ‘B’ rating in my Portfolio Grader.

Louis Navellier had an unconventional start, as a grad student who accidentally built a market-beating stock system — with returns rivaling even Warren Buffett. In his latest feat, Louis discovered the “Master Key” to profiting from the biggest tech revolution of this (or any) generation. Louis Navellier may hold some of the aforementioned securities in one or more of his newsletters.

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