How Did Alphabet Soar 65% in 2021, but Still Costs Only $1?

The recent sell-off has hit a lot of growth stocks pretty hard, especially in the technology sector. But Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG), the parent company of Google and YouTube, finished the year as one of the best performers on the Nasdaq-100 with a return of 65.3%.

It’s down about 8% year to date in 2022 as of Jan. 28, but even that is better than the Nasdaq-100, which is down roughly 12% year to date.

Alphabet is a company that needs no introduction, as there’s a good chance that you use its products every day — multiple times a day. It’s one of the greatest companies in the world, but with a share price of about $2,640 per share, as of Jan. 28, it is priced out of range for many investors.

However, through fractional-share investing, you can invest in the company at a, well, fraction of the cost.

Image source: Getty Images.

How to get a piece of Alphabet

Fractional-share investing is a relatively new concept, as a lot of the major brokerages introduced it within just the last two years. Quite simply, it allows people to invest in a stock by dollar amount as opposed to by share. So, if you wanted to invest $1 in Alphabet, you could do so by buying a fraction of that stock. In Alphabet’s case, $1 would only buy you 0.037 of a share. More realistically, you could invest $500 in Alphabet and that would buy you about 19% of one share.

That 19% share would have the same gains — or losses — as the full share would. For example, if you had invested $500 at the start of 2021, you would have realized that 65.3% gain and have about $826. If you had contributed $50 per month to that initial $500 investment, as the stock appreciated during the year, you would have had about $1,589 at the end of the year. You still wouldn’t have a full share of Alphabet, but you would now have 0.6 shares.

Of course, you can’t expect that type of performance every year. However, Alphabet has been incredibly consistent and one of the best performing stocks on the market over the long term. Over the past 10 years through Jan. 28, the stock has returned 24.7% on an annualized basis.

Since inception in 2004 it is even better, with a 25.5% annualized return. In that time, Alphabet, which was called Google until 2014, has had four negative years, with one of them, 2018, essentially flat as it was only down 0.80%.

Alphabet: A force in this digital age

Alphabet is down about 8% year to date in 2022, but it has been caught up in a market sell-off that has broadly impacted most technology stocks. The fact is, Alphabet had a strong year, with revenue up 45.1% year over year through the first three quarters to $182.3 billion. Net income was up 121.2% year over year to $55.4 billion over that same period, while free cash flow jumped to $48.5 billion from $25.6 billion the previous year. The company will report fourth-quarter and year-end earnings on Feb. 1.

From its Google internet search engine to its YouTube video-sharing and YouTube TV streaming services, along with its Google Cloud platform, Alphabet has benefited from the continued shift to all things digital, and that’s a trend that’s only going to continue in the years to come.

The fourth-largest company in the world with a $1.7 trillion market cap is going to be a major force in this digital age, and fractional-share investing affords you the opportunity to get a piece of it.

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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Dave Kovaleski has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Alphabet (A shares). The Motley Fool recommends Alphabet (C shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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