Alphabet Dethrones Amazon As Top U.S. Internet Company: Citi Report


Google owner Alphabet Inc. has beat out Inc. as the top U.S. internet company in the eyes of Citigroup, according to a Bloomberg report.

The New York investment bank today catapulted Alphabet from third to the top spot on the same day that Amazon announced it would abandon plans for a new U.S. headquarters in the Queens borough of New York City amid political opposition to the project.

CRN reached out to Citi, which declined to provide a copy of the report.

[RELATED: Google Cloud CEO Kurian Pledges Aggressive Cloud Sales Investment]

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Citi analyst Mark May attributed the re-ranking to Alphabet’s “continued strong top-line growth,” notably in mobile search and its YouTube video sharing franchise, according to a Bloomberg report.

Alphabet’s stock buybacks and high stock valuation of approximately $782 billion “more than offset continued margin pressures,” Bloomberg said, citing a research note issued by May this morning.

“In addition to considering fundamentals, key catalysts and valuations, we are also taking into account expected momentum this year in terms of revenue growth and margin trajectory,” May wrote in the note to Citi investment clients.

Amazon’s downgrade to the No. 4 slot was prompted by slow growth, including in advertising dollars and retail gross merchandise numbers for North America, and a margin expansion pace that could moderate this year, Bloomberg reported.

Amazon also is contending with new prohibitive e-commerce regulations in India, its troubled Big Apple “HQ2” plans and the distraction of CEO Jeff Bezos’ extramarital affair and extortion allegations against the National Enquirer playing out in other tabloids and mainstream press, according to the Citi report.

Netflix remained No. 2 of the top five internet companies on Citi’s list, and Facebook moved to third from fourth. May has “buy” ratings on all three. Expedia Inc. remained in fifth place.

Alphabet’s toppling of Amazon in the Citi ranking comes as Google Cloud this week announced an aggressive channel charge, with a pledge by new CEO Thomas Kurian to heavily increase investment in its sale division and ratchet up channel relations.

"You will see us accelerate the growth even faster than we have to date," Kurian said at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. "We are hiring some of the best talent from around the industry to grow our sales organization, and you will see us competing much more aggressively as we go forward."

Under former CEO Diane Green and Kurian, who assumed leadership in January, the third-ranked Google Cloud has been focused on going “toe to toe” with No. 1 Amazon Web Services and No. 2 Microsoft Azure, said Aric Bandy, president of Agosto Inc., a Minneapolis cloud services and development company.

“That’s why we’re seeing this quarter-over-quarter rapid growth,” said Bandy, whose company is a tier one Google Cloud Premier Partner. “For the last probably eight quarters, Google has really gotten aggressive in winning big customers and not allowing the competitors – Amazon and Microsoft – to beat them out on pricing and technical features. Google is now a very compelling technical platform for enterprise platforms.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai yesterday announced the company would expand its U.S. footprint by spending more than $13 billion on data centers and offices this year, including expansions in 14 states. The announcement follows 10,000 hires and $9 billion-plus in investments last year, he said.

“Google will now have a home in 24 total states, including data centers in 13 communities,” Pichai said in a blog post. “(This year) marks the second year in a row we’ll be growing faster outside of the Bay Area (of California) than in it.”