Google earnings lack 'wow' factor in first quarter

Talk about a tough act to follow, Google, which yesterday reported its net revenue for the first quarter had jumped 37 percent from the same quarter a year ago, nevertheless saw its stock price fall some 5 percent in after-hours trading because some analysts had quietly been telling customers it would do better than their public estimates. As BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis said, "The wow number was $7 (EPS). If they had put that out, we wouldn't have cared about all the rest." Google "only" reported earnings per share of $6.06 for the quarter (analysts said there would have been a more positive reaction to a $6.60to $6.85 EPS announcement).

There was no breakout news of YouTube, which isn't unusual from the company, which tends to not offer a lot of detail about where-specifically-it was earning money.

Google said it earned $1.96 billion on revenues of $6.78 billion. A year ago, in the midst of a recession, the company had income of $1.42 billion ($4.49 a share) on sales of $5.51 billion in the first quarter, that's a 23 percent increase in sales from a year ago.

Despite analyst's less-than-excited response to the numbers, Google's execs were upbeat, with CFO Patrick Pichette saying the numbers showed Google was off to a "very positive" beginning in the new year, saying Google had seen a big return of large advertisers after a stutter last year.

Google added some 800 employees in the first quarter, and said it expected to continue adding more hires aggressively. Pichette said Google would "invest heavily in people, products and acquisitions" for the remainder of the year.

For more:
- see the earnings call transcript
- see this New York Times story

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