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Alphabet stock down 8% on cloud miss as investors praise Microsoft

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

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Shares of Alphabet dipped about 8% Wednesday morning, a day after the company posted third-quarter earnings that missed analyst estimates for Google Cloud revenue.

The company beat Wall Street expectations for both revenue and earnings per share, but its miss on revenue from Google Cloud came in stark contrast to Microsoft’s earnings, which showed accelerated growth in its Intelligent Cloud business. Google posted cloud revenue of $8.41 billion compared to Street Account estimates of $8.64 billion.

“The disappointment at Google Cloud contrasted with better-than-expected Azure growth at Microsoft,” UBS analysts said.

Finance chief Ruth Porat said on the investor call that while cloud growth “remained strong across geographies, industries and products,” the expansion rate “reflects the impact of customer optimization efforts,” a phrase that generally refers to clients reeling in their spending.

Some of those comments seemed to have spooked UBS analysts.

“The GCP commentary around optimization is disappointing given that investors were hoping cloud players to begin lapping optimizations and seeing more positive momentum,” UBS said in a separate note to investors. “MSFT also pointed to an expectation that optimization would continue through this calendar year. This is consistent with our AWS estimate cuts last week”

KeyBanc analysts were also concerned with the results in comparison to Microsoft’s growth. “While management notes Google Cloud Platform (GCP) continues to grow faster than reported results, we believe limited disclosures are creating concerns that Google lost share to Microsoft Azure, which saw growth accelerate 1 point to +28% y/y FX neutral growth,” they said.

Jefferies analysts noted Google Cloud grew 22%, slower than the 28% growth the company posted in the second quarter. They said that while interest in generative AI is high, “The industry’s challenge in ramping AI infrastructure may be a factor in slowing recognized revs. We expect better AI impact in ’24.”

CNBC’s Jennifer Elias and Michael Bloom contributed to this report

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