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Alphabet spelled relief for shareholders with R&D. Google's parent company on Monday for the first time broke out the cost of chasing so-called moon shots like internet-by-balloon and driverless cars. Such investments lost $3.

6 billion last year, but isolating them also revealed strong operating margins in advertising-based businesses. Founder Larry Page wisely operates under the belief that a technology company that doesn't keep developing new ideas eventually will lose its relevance. The scale of the ambitions, however, was starting.

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