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Alphabet shares follow in Amazon's footsteps and top US$1,000

Monday, June 5, 2017 - 23:48

[SAN FRANCISCO] Shares of Google parent Alphabet Inc passed US$1,000 six days after Amazon.com Inc crossed the same threshold, showing the sustained investor confidence that tech giants can outmatch older companies.

Amazon's rise reflected a bullishness in e-commerce, coming despite bigger sales in brick-and-mortar retail. Likewise, Alphabet shareholders see that TV ad budgets will continue to gravitate online, where Google dominates.

Alphabet's transition just under two years ago to a portfolio structure has also buoyed investor confidence in the stock. Alphabet's shares hit US$1,006.2 on 10.43am in New York Monday, a 37.9 per cent increase since August 2015 when Google became Alphabet, splitting off its audacious, earlier stage ventures from the core Internet business. 

During that time, chief financial officer Ruth Porat oversaw cuts to the company's massive spending bill and decelerations on some pricey initiatives, like its fiber broadband service and drones. Alphabet issued a rare share buyback last year.

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Google's primary ads business has kept expanding too, dodging any threat from the spread of mobile devices. Ad revenue reached US$21.4 billion in the first quarter, a 19 per cent annual leap. And the company has shown some signs of growth in its cloud-computing business, an area of massive investment internally.

Along with cloud-computing, Google has heaved considerable investment into artificial intelligence, such as voice-computing. Many investors believe that investment positions Google well to hedge against any threats to its web search business a shift in computing brings.

Prospects for the one-time "moonshots" - the company's experiments in industries like health care and transportation, now called the "Other Bets" - have looked brighter this year.

Verily, Alphabet's medical business, closed a US$800 million outside investment from Singapore firm Temasek. Alphabet cut investment in its fiber broadband service, a move investors appeared to cheer for the slowdown of capital in a competitive industry.

Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car unit, is in position to lead the competitive autonomous transit market, according to a note last month from Morgan Stanley. The analysts wrote that the unit could be worth around US$70 billion by 2030 - a prospective value that is not baked into Alphabet's current share price.

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