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Alphabet touts machine learning, YouTube performance in 2016

Alphabet Inc. on Jan. 26 reported fourth-quarter 2016 top-line revenues of $26.06 billion, up 22% year over year, buoyed by strong mobile search performance and YouTube revenues.

On an earnings call, Google CEO Sundar Pichai pointed to the company's development of machine learning technologies as a strength.

"Computing is moving from mobile first to AI-first, with more universal ambient and intelligence computing that you can interact with naturally," he said. "2016 was the year that this became central to who we are as a company and the products that we build."

Executives stressed the growing promise of machine-learning powered AI to work across Google's products, from composing emails, improved search and Google's interactive Assistant.

"The thing which I get excited about is that computing is increasingly moving from just being one device to being there for users in their context," Pichai said in response to an analyst's question. "We expect to be there for users across the device ecosystem and we are also building things like Google Play to work across all of this so users can have one coherent experience," he added.

Still, some technologies, such as Google Voice Search, remain a work in progress, the CEO said.

Fourth-quarter revenues for Alphabet's Google segment, which includes its core advertising business, increased to $25.80 billion, up 22% year over year from $21.18 billion in the 2015 period.

The "Other Bets" segment, which includes the company's varied "moonshot" projects, reported revenues of $262 million, up from $150 million in the prior year period. This segment, which includes connected home unit Nest, the Google Fiber internet project and the Waymo self-driving car unit, has long been considered a money-loser by some investors. In the fourth quarter of 2016, it generated an operating loss of $1.09 billion, down from a loss of $1.21 billion in the prior-year period. Alphabet reorganized Waymo as a stand-alone business in October 2016, but the company does not break out revenues for individual Other Bets properties.

Alphabet reported consolidated net income of $5.33 billion, or $7.56 per share, compared to $4.92 billion, or $7.06 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2015. On a non-GAAP adjusted basis, net income for the just ended period came to $6.59 billion, or $9.36 per share, compared with $6.04 billion, or $8.67 per share, in the comparable 2015 period.

The S&P Capital IQ consensus EPS estimate for the fourth quarter of 2016 was $7.60 on a GAAP basis. On a normalized basis, the consensus EPS estimate was $9.62.

For full year 2016, Alphabet reported net income available to all stockholders of $19.48 billion, or $27.85 per share, up from $15.83 billion, or $22.84 per share, in 2015. The S&P Capital IQ consensus EPS estimate for 2016 was $27.99 on a GAAP basis.

Consolidated revenue for 2016 came to $90.27 billion, up from $74.99 billion in 2015.