Google Jumps the Gun on Earnings Release and Gets Punished - What will Larry Say?

By Peter Bernstein October 18, 2012

For a company that most people think runs like a Swiss watch, Google presented Wall Street with an unexpected gift in front of its scheduled earnings release by inadvertently making public its Q3 results prior to its 4:30 call with analysts prematurely. Ooops! And, this was not the only slip.

Turns out an SEC filing was posted inadvertently. That could be viewed as a minor slip up, except that what it revealed is that Google’s reported third-quarter earnings are of $9.03. This is far south of what the Street was expecting with a pre-call view consensus at $10.65. The stock is getting pounded. At 1:23 EDT Google shares were selling at 687.30, off 9.03 percent on the day, and selling pressures are not likely to let up until there is a whole lot of explaining to do later in the day. Trading in the stock has since been halted.

Highlights and low lights include:

  • Google Revenue (advertising and other) – Google revenue was $11.53 billion, or 82 percent of consolidated revenue, in the third quarter of 2012, representing a 19 percent increase over third quarter 2011 revenue of $9.72 billion.
  • Google Sites Revenue – Google-owned sites generated revenue of $7.73 billion, or 67 percent of total Google revenue, in the third quarter of 2012. This represents a 15 percent increase over third quarter 2011 Google sites revenue of $6.74 billion.
  • Google Network Revenue – Google’s partner sites generated revenue of $3.13 billion, or 27 percent of total Google revenue, in the third quarter of 2012. This represents a 21 percent increase from third quarter 2011 Google network revenue of $2.60 billion.
  • Google International Revenue – Google revenue from outside of the United States totaled $6.11 billion, representing 53 percent of total Google revenue in the third quarter of 2012, compared to 54 percent in the second quarter of 2012 and 55 percent in the third quarter of 2011.
  • Foreign Exchange Impact on Google Revenue – Excluding gains related to our foreign exchange risk management program, had foreign exchange rates remained constant from the second quarter of 2012 through the third quarter of 2012, Google revenue in the third quarter of 2012 would have been $136 million higher. Excluding gains related to our foreign exchange risk management program, had foreign exchange rates remained constant from the third quarter of 2011 through the third quarter of 2012, our Google revenues in the third quarter of 2012 would have been $557 million higher.
  • Google revenue from the United Kingdom totaled $1.22 billion, representing 11 percent of Google revenues in the third quarter of 2012, compared to 11% in the third quarter of 2011.
  • Foreign Exchange - In the third quarter of 2012, we recognized a benefit of $62 million to Google revenue through our foreign exchange risk management program, compared to $1 million in the third quarter of 2011.
  • Paid Clicks – Aggregate paid clicks, which include clicks related to ads served on Google sites and the sites of Network members, increased approximately 33 percent over the third quarter of 2011 and increased approximately six percent over the second quarter of 2012.
  • Cost-Per-Click – Average cost-per-click, which includes clicks related to ads served on Google sites and the sites of Network members, decreased approximately 15 percent over the third quarter of 2011 and decreased approximately three percent over the second quarter of 2012.

So where and what is the beef?

OK you say, “not so bad, although that decline in price per clicks is disconcerting, what’s the problem!” But wait! There is more. The thing that has investors agitated can be summed up in a word, Motorola.

Operating Income – On a consolidated basis, GAAP operating income in the third quarter of 2012 was $2.74 billion, or 19 percent of revenue. This compares to GAAP operating income of $3.06 billion, or 31 percent of revenues, in the third quarter of 2011. Non-GAAP operating income in the third quarter of 2012 was $3.80 billion, or 27 percent of revenue. This compares to non-GAAP operating income of $3.63 billion, or 37 percent of revenue, in the third quarter of 2011.

Google Operating Income – GAAP operating income for Google was $3.26 billion, or 28 percent of Google revenues, in the third quarter of 2012. This compares to GAAP operating income of $3.06 billion, or 31 percent of Google revenues, in the third quarter of 2011. Non-GAAP operating income in the third quarter of 2012 was $3.95 billion, or 34 percent of Google revenues. This compares to non-GAAP operating income of $3.63 billion in the third quarter of 2011, or 37 percent of Google revenue.

Motorola Operating Loss – GAAP operating loss for Motorola was $527 million ($505 million for the mobile segment and $22 million for the home segment), or -20 percent of Motorola revenue in the third quarter of 2012. Non-GAAP operating loss for Motorola in the third quarter of 2012 was $151 million, or –six percent of Motorola revenues.

This story is going to get really interesting when the Google executive team goes live later to explain the results. It was noted in the premature posting that space was left “PENDING LARRY QUOTE.”  

This refers to the typical explanation of the results that will come from Google CEO Larry Page. Not only is he going to have to explain the overall results, but he is going to have to discuss what happens next quarter, particularly how the Motorola acquisition get turned around and how doing so is not going to upset the Android ecosystem (pardon the expression) apple cart.  And, those click numbers are going to be a hot topic as well.

Check back with us later. This is going to be real interesting.




Edited by Brooke Neuman
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