“We have noted in prior research that GOOG is likely paying to ensure Microsoft doesn’t outbid it.” — Analyst Toni Sacconaghi
From a note to clients that landed on my desktop Wednesday:
We now estimate that Google’s payments to AAPL to be the default search engine on iOS were ~$10B in FY 20, higher than our prior published model estimate of $8B. Recent disclosures in Apple’s public filings as well as a bottom-up analysis of Google’s TAC (traffic acquisition costs) payments each point us to this figure…
We now forecast that Google’s payments to Apple might be nearly $15B in FY 21, contribute an amazing ~850 bps to Services growth YoY, and amount to ~9% of company gross profits.
We see two potential risks to GOOG’s payments to AAPL: (1) regulatory risk, which we believe is real, but likely years away; we see a potential 4-5% impact to Apple’s gross profits from an adverse ruling; & (2) that Google chooses to stop paying Apple to be the default search engine altogether, or looks to renegotiate terms and pay less. We have noted in prior research that GOOG is likely paying to ensure Microsoft doesn’t outbid it. That said, with payments likely to approach $18 – $20B in FY 22, it not implausible that Google could revisit its strategy.
Maintains Market-Perform rating and (underwater) $132 price target.
Cue the ad revenue chart:
My take: Leave it to Sacconaghi to move straight to the risks. Here was the headline to his note today:
Wow, Google’s payments to Apple might be $15B this year… What risks exist?