Google results miss; shares dive after premature report

Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:08pm EDT
 
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By Alexei Oreskovic and Edwin Chan

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc's quarterly results fell well short of Wall Street's expectations after its core advertising business slowed, stunning investors accustomed to consistently rapid growth from the Internet giant and wiping more than 9 percent off its market value.

The disappointing numbers on Thursday came hours ahead of schedule in a rare instance of premature filing. Google blamed the misfire on an unauthorized filing by its financial printers, RR Donnelley & Sons Co, and later confirmed the numbers' accuracy.

The earnings report, which had not been expected until after the market close, revealed a weakening in Google's core Internet advertising business and persistent losses at its recently acquired cellphone business, Motorola Mobility.

Shares of Google, the world's No. 1 Internet search engine, finished Thursday's regular trading session down 8 percent at $695 after a brief trading halt. Some analysts said the inadvertent results release spurred confusion and exacerbated its stock price decline.

Google executives maintained in a conference call on Thursday that the company's various businesses continued to benefit from healthy growth and that Google was well-positioned to capitalize on consumer's increasing use of mobile devices.

Chief Executive Larry Page, speaking on his first earnings call since an unspecified voice ailment sidelined him from public speaking in June, said that Google's mobile business was now generating revenue at an annualized run rate of $8 billion.

Page acknowledged that mobile ad rates were below the rates that Google garners for ads that appear on its standard website. But he said the variety of Web-connected devices used by consumers is creating "a huge new universe of opportunities for advertisers."

"We're uniquely positioned to get through that transition and to really profit from it," Page said, citing Google's Android mobile software, the world's top operating system for smartphones by market share.   Continued...

 
An employee rides her bike past a logo next to the main entrance of the Google building in Zurich July 9, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann