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Alphabet joins $2 trillion club as results show AI strength

Cloud demand was fueled by growth in AI, while Alphabet also cheered investors by introducing a dividend and announcing a $70 billion buyback program.
Last Updated : 27 April 2024, 10:39 IST
Last Updated : 27 April 2024, 10:39 IST

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Alphabet Inc closed decisively above a $2 trillion market capitalisation for the first time on Friday, as a powerhouse earnings report reassured investors that the Google parent would be a major player in artificial intelligence.

The stock rose 10 per cent to $171.95, its biggest one-day jump since July 2015, resulting in a valuation of $2.15 trillion. The advance added almost $200 billion to the company’s market capitalisation, making for one of the largest single-day value adds in stock market history. Shares have risen 23 per cent this year, compared with the 5.3 per cent gain of the Nasdaq 100 Index.

The $2 trillion milestone followed the company’s results, where revenue beat expectations on the strength of its cloud-computing unit. Cloud demand was fueled by growth in AI, while Alphabet also cheered investors by introducing a dividend and announcing a $70 billion buyback program.

Credit: Bloomberg Photo

Credit: Bloomberg Photo

“Alphabet is tremendously well managed, its free cash flow is absolutely astonishing, and it has a massive R&D budget, so while no one knows what company the best AI products will have, this is a tough one to bet against,” said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at Phoenix Financial Services.

While the stock breached the $2 trillion level on an intraday basis in 2021, and again earlier this month, this is the first time Alphabet has closed above it. Doing so puts it into rarefied territory — only Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp, Saudi Aramco, and Nvidia Corp. have surpassed the threshold. Nvidia — driven by the massive demand for its AI chips — surpassed $2 trillion earlier this year, while Amazon.com Inc. isn’t far from $2 trillion itself.

The path to $2 trillion has been somewhat rocky. The stock has been volatile amid some high-profile criticism about the company’s AI offerings, and prior to the latest report, some investors had questioned its ability to compete with firms like OpenAI in this critical area despite spending heavily in the field for years.

Wall Street remains broadly positive on the stock, as nearly 85% of the analysts tracked by Bloomberg recommend buying. Both earnings and revenue are expected to grow at a double-digit pace every year through 2026.

In addition, the stock continues to look like something of a bargain. Shares trade around 23.5 times estimated earnings, making it among the cheapest of the so-called Magnificent Seven. The stock also trades at a discount to the Nasdaq 100, and is only modestly above its 10-year average multiple.

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Published 27 April 2024, 10:39 IST

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