Google and Amazon grappling happily with maturity

Alphabet and Amazon are grappling happily with maturity. The $450bn (€399bn) holding firm for Google is returning lots more cash to shareholders.

The $260bn internet mega-retailer delivered profits. Both operations are growing so fast, and throwing off so much cash, they can act as responsible stewards of capital while still chasing the next big thing.

Third-quarter results showed both firms overcoming challenges from rivals. Despite consumers spending more time on Facebook, and Apple rolling out mobile ad blockers, Alphabet managed to increase revenue by 13%. Moreover, finance chief Ruth Porat showed her influence on sensible capital allocation, with the company announcing its first big buyback.

Of course, Alphabet is still pursuing moon shots from robotics to bioinformatics with vigour.

It hasn’t given up its nerdy humour either — the buyback figure represents the square root of 26, which is the number of letters in the alphabet.

Amazon isn’t nearly as profitable. But it is in the black, and the company is growing far faster.

Alphabet and Amazon are sharing some of the benefits of maturity with their shareholders, but they aren’t giving up the exciting perks of youth.

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist


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