Google parent Alphabet joins the $1 trillion company club

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FILE – This Nov. 1, 2018, file photo shows a photo of the Google logo at their offices in Granary Square, London. The European Court of Justice’s ruled Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, that there is no obligation under EU law, for a search engine operator to extend beyond the EU member states the court’s 2014 ruling that people have the right to control what appears when their name is searched online. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

(CBS) — Growing public concern over Big Tech’s influence on the media industry, political advertising and proliferation of hate speech isn’t much fazing investors in big technology companies. 

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, saw its stock market value surpass $1 trillion this week, making it the fourth tech giant to cross the threshold. Apple topped $1 trillion in August 2018, becoming the first U.S. company to accomplish the feat. Amazon followed a month later, while Microsoft became the third member of the corporate trillion-dollar club last spring.

And despite the focus in Washington on tech companies’ clout, Wall Street expects Alphabet’s star to keep rising.

“We have been struck with how strong the advertising business has been for Google and our checks on [fourth-quarter earnings] have been bullish as well,” Pivotal Research Group analyst Michael Levine wrote in a research note. “We think the stock will outperform the other large-cap Internet names in 2020 as estimates move higher.” 

Last summer, antitrust officials announced they were launching an investigation into whether Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon have grown too massive for their own good. At issue is whether Google and the like have expanded so quickly and decisively beyond their early business markets that newcomers won’t be able to capture customers and grow. 

Notably, the probe represents a rare bipartisan commitment to reining in Big Tech’s influence on U.S. affairs. New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Democrat, said at the time that “there is growing evidence that a handful of gatekeepers have come to capture control over key arteries of online commerce, content and communications.”

In June, a U.S. House committee met to examine Google’s and Facebook’s impact on newspapers and other news organizations. House members said the companies have fostered the spread of misinformation while hurting the news business.

“This year alone, over 2,900 reporters have lost their jobs,” including at print outlets and online-only publications, Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, said in the hearing.

Despite such criticisms, Big Tech has continued to expand. Over the past 12 months, shares of Alphabet, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple grew 36%, 50%, 58% and 108%, respectively, compared with a 30.4% gain in 2019 for the broader S&P 500-stock index. 

First published on January 17, 2020 / 1:24 PM

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