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Google's business booms even as antitrust woes escalate

The search giant is in Washington's crosshairs for allegedly anticompetitive behavior but still manages to set a quarterly revenue record.

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Business is good for Mountain View, California-based Google.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google's battle with antitrust regulators and prosecutors has intensified over the last quarter, but that hasn't stopped the tech giant from raking in heaps of cash.

For the quarter ended June 30, Google's parent company, Alphabet, tallied $61.88 billion in sales, handily beating analyst estimates of $56.15 billion. The total marked a best for quarterly revenue at the search giant.

Earnings per share came in at $27.26, crushing expectations of $19.34 per share, according to Refinitiv.

"Our strong second quarter revenues of $61.9 billion reflect elevated consumer online activity and broad-based strength in advertiser spend," CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement. "Again, we benefited from excellent execution across the board by our teams."

The gargantuan earnings performance comes as the search giant finds itself the target of multiple major antitrust lawsuits, including a complaint filed earlier this month by a coalition of 36 states and the District of Columbia over allegedly anticompetitive practices at Google's Play store, a marketplace for apps. The suit joins other cases designed to probe Google's dominance in everything from search and advertising to the power of its Android operating system, the dominant mobile software in the world.

The Biden administration is fortifying its lineup of antitrust personnel to take on the Silicon Valley giants. In June, the Federal Trade Commission tapped Lina Khan, a fierce tech critic, as its new chair. Khan has reframed decades of antitrust thinking to apply it to the dominance of tech giants. President Joe Biden also nominated longtime Google foe Jonathan Kanter as the head of the Department of Justice's antitrust division. Kanter has represented companies, including Microsoft and Yelp, that have accused the search giant of anticompetitive behavior. 

The COVID-19 pandemic loomed in the background of Google's report. During a conference call, executives referenced last year's second quarter, when Google posted a quarterly revenue drop for the first time in its history as uncertainty about the disease spread alongside it.  

"Throughout the pandemic, we've really seen more shoppers turn to the platform for ideas, inspiration and really help them decide what to buy," Google Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler said, referring to the YouTube. The video sharing platform posted more than $7 billion in revenue, almost twice as much as it did in the same quarter a year earlier.

Pichai opened the conference call by encouraging listeners to get COVID vaccines. He also said he was encouraged to see employees begin to return to the company's California offices as the pandemic's grip loosens. Returning to the office and where Googlers can work from after the pandemic has been a source of tension in the company.

Alphabet's shares jumped 4.25% to $2,750 in after hours trading.