Alphabet earnings preview: What to look out for in Thursday's third quarter results - from Google ad revenue to Pixel 2 updates

 
Lynsey Barber
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Google advertising makes up the largest part of Alphabet revenue

The advertising juggernaut that is Google and its parent company Alphabet is expected to continue raking it in.

Earnings per share are expected to come in at around $8.33 in the third quarter, according to analyst estimates, when announced on Thursday after the closing bell. Revenue of $27.2bn is predicted for the three months to the end of September.

A decline in how much Google makes from each ad it shows to a person and gets them to click on - cost per click - is expected to continue into this quarter: the number of people on mobile is growing, but the ads are less valuable compared to desktop.

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And traffic acquisition costs - that is, how much it has to pay to attract those eyeballs - is expected to rise again this quarter.

Eyes will be on how these various aspects balance out this quarter.

"Although Alphabet’s revenue is growing at a healthy rate, growth areas are increasingly coming from lower margin businesses like mobile search and programmatic, putting increased pressure on profits," said Martin Utreras, vice president of forecasting at eMarketer, which predicts Google's share of the global digital advertising market to stand at over 30 per cent by the end of the year.

"To keep the focus on profit growth, eMarketer expects Alphabet to continue shifting investment into nascent areas like artificial intelligence, cloud, self-driving cars and connected home," he added.

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Losses at its "other bets" department, which encompasses things such as life sciences arm Verily, driverless car division Waymo and smart home services Nest, were down 10 per cent in the last quarter.

With the launch of a new range of hardware products in recent weeks, including smart speakers to take on Amazon's dominance with the Echo, and the acquisition of HTC for $1.1bn, an update on how this strategy is paying off will be welcome, particularly with reports that its latest Pixel 2 phone may have screen "burn-in" issues.

It has also also made a bigger push with its cloud services in recent months, again, taking on the might of Amazon and its AWS services.

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