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Google posts mammoth jump in fourth-quarter revenue

The search giant continues to grow even as regulatory scrutiny mounts.

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California
Google headquarters sprawls across a large campus in Mountain View, California.
Stephen Shankland/CNET

Search giant Google on Tuesday posted a mammoth jump in quarterly sales fueled by its search and advertising businesses, the same operations that are attracting antitrust attention.

Revenue at Alphabet, Google's parent, jumped 32% year over year to $75.3 billion in the fourth quarter, beating the $72.13 billion forecast by an analysts surveyed by Yahoo Finance. Net profit totaled $20.6 billion. Earnings per share totaled $30.69, beating analysts' forecast of $27.48.

The company also unveiled a 20-for-1 stock split, pending shareholder approval, and reported Pixel phones hit a quarterly high though it provided no other details. Google shares spiked more than 7% in after-hours trading after closing the day 1.6% higher at $2,757.57.

The resilience of Google's business -- net profit almost doubled in year ended Dec. 31, 2021 -- comes in the face of mounting regulatory scrutiny and lawsuits filed by both the federal and state attorneys general. Regulators and prosecutors are investigating everything from Google's app store to business practices around its Android operating system, which is the dominant mobile software platform in the world.

The US Department of Justice has accused Google of blocking competitors to become the default search option on mobile devices. The company also faces two lawsuits filed by groups of state attorneys general. Google has denied the accusations in the suits. 

Google's dominance in web search and digital advertising has also drawn the attention of Congress. A House Judiciary subcommittee issued a report that concluded Google, as well as other tech giants, have used monopoly power to squelch competition. Last year, the House Judiciary Committee approved six bills that target tech companies but has yet to schedule a floor vote. 

CEO Sundar Pichai said the company wanted to engage "constructively" with legislators and regulators but expressed concern new rules could have "unintended consequences." 

"We are committed to approaching it constructively," he told Wall Street analysts during a conference call. 

Google's prowess is intimidating. The Mountain View, California-based tech titan's share of the US search market hovers right around 90%, a dominance that anchors its massive advertising business. The advertising business, in turn, generates almost all of the company's sales.

Ad sales at the company's YouTube video unit jumped to $8.6 billion, though the 25.4% growth was slower than company's overall. Sales at its Google Cloud business, which rents server space and artificial intelligence technology, increased 44.6% to $5.5 billion though it posted a loss.