BUSINESS

Google's 2nd-quarter earnings climb 11 per cent to hit analyst targets while revenue misses

07/19/2012 04:38 EDT | Updated 09/18/2012 05:12 EDT
SAN FRANCISCO - Google earnings hit analysts' target as refinements to the company's Internet search technology lured more Web surfers to click on its revenue-producing ads.

The performance announced Thursday seemed to ease investor concerns that have caused Google's stock to fall so far this year while the major market indexes have posted gains.

Google shares added $19.44, or more than 3 per cent, to reach $612.50 in extended trading after the report came out.

The results included Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of cellphone maker Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. for the first time. Google Inc. owned Motorola for the final 39 days of the quarter ending in June.

Excluding Motorola, Google's revenue during the quarter would have grown at the slowest pace since 2009. That slowdown stemmed primarily from the economic turmoil in Europe that has weakened currencies overseas, resulting in less revenue when sales are converted into U.S. dollars.

The uncertainty caused by heavy government debt burdens in Europe also contributed to "somewhat difficult" conditions, Google Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette told analysts during a Thursday conference call.

As expected, Google CEO Larry Page skipped the conference call while he recovered from an unspecified throat problem that the company revealed at its annual stockholders' meeting last month.

Google earned $2.8 billion, or $8.42 per share, during the three months ending in June. That compared with net income of $2.5 billion, or $7.68 per share, last year.

The earnings would have been $10.12 per share, if not for Google's accounting costs for employee stock compensation and the Motorola deal. That figure was in line with the average estimate of $10.10 per share among analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue climbed 35 per cent from last year to $12.2 billion. If not for Motorola, revenue would have increased 21 per cent. That would have been Google's slowest rate of revenue growth since the fourth quarter of 2009 when the company was just starting to recover from the Great Recession.

Google's revenue, excluding Motorola, stood at $8.36 billion after subtracting the ad commissions paid to is advertising partners. That was about $70 million below analyst projections.

The second-quarter numbers were propelled by technology changes that feature more advertising links when Google's search formula concludes a user's request is driven by a desire to buy a product, book a vacation or make some kind of other commercial transaction. As it gathers more data about users, Google also believes it can do a better job interpreting people's individual interests so it can tailor ads to suit their preference.

The improvements appeared to pay off in the latest quarter. The number of total clicks on Google's ads during the second quarter increased 42 per cent from the same time last year.

That activity is crucial to Google because the company usually only gets paid when a Web surfer clicks on an advertising link.

The increasing volume in clicks helped Google shake off a deepening decline in its ad prices. The average price per click plunged 16 per cent from last year. It marked the third consecutive quarter of year-over-year erosion in Google's ad prices. The previous decreases ranged from 8 per cent to 12 per cent.