- Alphabet, Google’s parent company, reported its fourth-quarter results on Monday.
- The company beat Wall Street’s earnings-per-share expectations handily, thanks to a tax rate that was much lower than expected, but it fell shy of analysts‘ revenue forecasts.
- Alphabet also offered some long-hoped-for financial details about its YouTube and Google Cloud businesses.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Alphabet offered some good with some bad on Monday.
The Google parent company’s fourth-quarter revenue fell short of Wall Street’s forcasts as revenue growth in the company’s advertising business slowed in the final three months of the year. But the company posted a big beat on the bottom line, thanks to a much lower tax rate than analysts were expecting.
And perhaps more importantly for many investors and analysts, it finally offered some long-awaited financial details on its YouTube and Google Cloud businesses.
The financial revelations marked a major move by CEO Sundar Pichai in his first quarterly report to investors since taking the reins of Alphabet from founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in December.
But while the revenue figures for YouTube and Google Cloud provided long-awaited insight into two fast-growing businesses, investors focused on the sluggish overall growth at Google, sending the stock down $57.94, or 3.90%, to $1,428.00 in recent after-hours trading.
Here’s what the company reported and how that compared with what analysts were expecting and the company’s prior-year results:
- Fourth-quarter 2019 revenue minus traffic acquisition costs (TAC): $37.57 billion. Wall Street had predicted $38.39 billion in revenue on that basis. In the fourth quarter of 2018, Alphabet posted $31.84 billion.
- Fourth-quarter 2019 earnings per share (EPS): $15.35. Analysts were expecting $12.50 a share. In the year-ago quarter, the company earned $12.77 a share.
- First-quarter 2020 revenue minus TAC (analyst forecast): $35.27 billion. Per usual, the company didn’t offer any forecast for the period. In the same period a year ago, Alphabet posted $29.48 billion in sales on this basis.
- First-quarter 2020 EPS (forecast): $12.31. The company didn’t offer any earnings-per-share guidance for the upcoming quarter. Alphabet earned $9.50 a share in the first quarter last year, a period in which it recorded a $1.7 billion fine from the European Commission.
In the quarter, Alphabet set aside only $33 million for taxes, down from $1.1 billion in the same period a year earlier. On a conference call with analysts and investors, Ruth Porat, the company’s chief financial officer, said the company’s tax rate was affected by several onetime items, including the resolution of a multiyear audit.
Had the company’s effective tax rate been the same as it was in the fourth quarter of 2018 – about 11% – it would have set aside about $1.2 billion in taxes. That would have cut its earnings per share to about $13.68.
And the effect of the tax benefits was even greater than that. Those onetime items likely added about $3.20 a share to Alphabet’s earnings, Colin Sebastian, an analyst who covers the company for Baird, said in a research note on Monday. If that windfall was taken away, the company would have missed analysts‘ expectations, he said.
The report marked the first earnings update Alphabet’s given since Sundar Pichai took over from cofounder Larry Page as the company’s CEO. Pichai didn’t hesitate to put his own stamp on them.
In addition to the earnings and revenue numbers, Alphabet for the first time broke out the revenue posted by its Search, YouTube, and Google Cloud businesses. Investors and analysts had long urged it to disclose those numbers, saying the company’s stock and business could benefit from more transparency.
In 2019, YouTube brought in $15.1 billion in ad revenue. That was up 35.8% from 2018. Google Cloud, meanwhile, posted $8.9 billion in sales last year, up a healthy 53% from the prior year.
By contrast, Google’s search and other ads business posted $98.1 billion in revenue in 2019, which was up a more modest 15% from 2018.
Alphabet’s stock closed regular trading up $51.71, or 3.6%, to $1,485.94 a share. The company’s share price is up more than 30% over the past year and hit an all-time high of $1,503.21 less than two weeks ago.
Malls are reopening — but will shoppers come back? – CBC.ca
Malls across the country are beginning to open their doors after weeks of government-mandated shutdowns, but both operators and retail tenants are stepping into uncharted territory amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the near-term, operators are focused on reopening their properties safely, but there’s a larger concern that shoppers — who have embraced e-commerce and curbside pickup since the pandemic’s outset — will be unimpressed upon returning to malls as many stores remain closed and new safety measures change the experience.
Tim Sanderson, head of Canadian retail at Jones Lang LaSalle, said he’s worried about a repeat of U.S. retail giant Target’s ill-fated attempt to penetrate the Canadian market, where supply chain issues resulted in empty shelves and annoyed customers who left and never came back.
“This is the experience that I fear, that we fear, could happen in the malls,” he said. “Someone goes to a shopping centre, goes through all of the protocols involved, walks into the shopping centre, and the store she came for is not even open, but also, the experience is going to be underwhelming.”
Sanderson emphasized that the safety measures malls have rolled out, such as one-direction travel, reduced or eliminated seating, physical distancing requirements and increased security to enforce policies, may be detrimental to the shopping experience but are crucial as a resurgence of the pandemic is the worst-case scenario.
“If we re-open business, and then the government has to lock it down again, I think that’s just bad for everybody in a whole lot of ways, not just shopping and retail, but peoples psyche and everything,” he said.
Mall owners have a strong incentive to get their properties open safely, as rents have plummeted following the provincial orders to close.
Owners were only paid about 20 to 25 per cent of their expected April rent, and around 15 per cent in May.
“There’s lots of talk among the retail and landlord community about what rents look like going forward, people have had a major, major impact to their sales.”
But he said there hasn’t been much progress as nobody’s in a position to say what sales will look like, or what rent levels will be affordable.
Mall owners, like many other landlords, have engaged tenants in rent deferrals to help struggling tenants.
Ivanhoe Cambridge has given deferrals to the “vast majority” of tenants “in solidarity with the difficult circumstances,” said spokeswoman Katherine Roux Groleau.
Some landlords are stepping in to help in other ways. Brookfield Asset Management, which has extensive mall holdings especially in the U.S., has said it’s ready to invest $5 billion US in large retailers to keep them afloat.
The situation could also lead to a return of pure percentage deals, where rent is tied to sales, especially for restaurant tenants, said CBRE Ltd. vice chair Paul Morassutti.
The crisis, however, will likely also accelerate the trend already underway of mall properties moving away from strictly retail, especially as numerous retailers like Reitmans, Aldo, Pier 1 and others go into creditor protection.
“This pandemic has accelerated the timing for some of those stores,” said Ray Wong, vice president at Altus Group.
“It’s not just the pandemic, they were having challenges before, and this just pushed them along.”
He said that while some premier shopping centres like Yorkdale Mall in Toronto will continue to see high demand, others in secondary markets could see an accelerated switch to more mixed used condos and rentals and office, while some in smaller markets might not survive as retail spaces at all.
“Certain malls or certain shopping centres, it may not be viable to have retail there and it may be redeveloped to other types of uses.”
The coronavirus outbreak, and the resulting shift to working from home, could also make people more reluctant to take long commutes and will instead gravitate to suburban hubs, like a massive development Oxford has planned for central Mississauga to further the trend of diversifying mall properties.
“It will be really interesting to see the discussion on the office front, with more people working from home, not wanting to do the two-hour commute on the subway, that they prefer locations that are closer to where they live, especially in the suburbs,” said Wong.
“It’s a constant juggling act to figure out what will work.”
'We are excited by these results': Saskatoon lab plans human trials after potential COVID-19 vaccine shows promise in animal tests – CTV News Saskatoon
human clinical trials for a Saskatoon research lab’s potential COVID-19 vaccine could begin as early as this fall.
In a news release, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac), said the vaccine proved “highly effective” in ferrets, animals which are widely used for COVID-19 modelling.
“Proving that the vaccine is effective in ferrets is a key milestone in the development pathway,” VIDO-InterVac director Dr. Volker Gerdts said in the release.
During the trial, the vaccine decreased viral infection in the animals’ upper respiratory tract to “almost undetectable levels.”
More trials are planned for the coming months, which will include safety studies that could clear the way for human clinical trials this fall.
As the lab’s vaccine research continues VIDO-InterVac is also in the process of readying a vaccine manufacturing facility.
“We are excited by these results and are continuing to develop our vaccine towards regulatory approval,” project leader Dr. Darryl Falzarano said.
The University of Saskatchewan-based lab received a
from the federal government for its COVID-19 research in March.
Five business groups urge Ontario to halt commercial evictions during pandemic – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, May 25, 2020 12:25PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 25, 2020 3:43PM EDT
TORONTO – Five business groups called on the Ontario government on Monday to impose a commercial eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying many small and medium-sized businesses are at risk of closing.
The groups make the request in an open letter to Premier Doug Ford, saying the help is needed as the due date for June rent approaches.
The groups include the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, Restaurants Canada and the Retail Council of Canada.
“Without your immediate assistance, more businesses will be forced to close,” the letter says. “In the absence of sufficient support, a large portion of the economy and the jobs created by our hard-working members will disappear forever.”
Last month, the federal and provincial governments announced the joint Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program to help businesses stave off eviction during the pandemic shutdown.
The program will see Ottawa and the provinces offer forgivable loans to commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of rent for eligible small businesses, with the tenant covering 25 per cent.
But the groups said some landlords are not applying for the program, which means businesses will receive no aid at all.
“Even though the program just officially started, we already know from our members that many landlords will not apply, meaning that their tenants will not be able to access the program and the commercial tenant eviction protection it includes,” the business groups said.
On Monday, Ford resisted calls for the moratorium, noting the joint rent relief program was just getting underway. But he cautioned landlords against not taking part in it and instead evicting tenants.
He called the program an “olive branch” to landlords and urged them to register.
“They need to start signing up for this,” Ford said. “They aren’t going to like the consequences if they don’t sign up for it. I can assure you. I’m protecting the tenants, it’s simple.”
Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the province could grant the moratorium and give businesses relief without costing the government anything.
“Today the Ontario business community asked the province for a temporary moratorium on evictions, but the Premier would only pass the buck to landlords with vague threats,” Schreiner said in a statement. “Small businesses need a champion, not a cheerleader.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2020.
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