Google (GOOG, NASDAQ, 52 week range 556.52 – 774.38) was to report quarterly earnings “after-the-bell,” but its filing agent, RR Donnelley, released them due to “human error” at about 1 p.m. EST. Besides the fact that the company had missed its forecast, the surprise sent Google’s share diving, resulting in a halting of trading.
Google reported third quarter earnings of $3.01 billion, or $9.03 per share, on revenues of $11.33 billion. This compares to the third quarter of 2011 earnings of $3.18 billion, or $9.72 per share, on revenues of $7.51 billion.
Analysts expectations reported by Thomson Reuters was per share earnings of $10.65 on revenues of $11.86 billion. A huge miss, especially on revenues by about $500 million. The prematurely released report did say that average cost-per-click dropped 15 percent from the year earlier period.
On the news, the share price dove as low as $676 per share, down over 10 percent in minutes and causing the call for a halt of trading. They did resume trading before the market closed with GOOG shares ending the day at $695, down 60.49 points or 8.01 percent, on six-times normal volume. The drop also was a big contributor to the NASDAQ ending the day off 1.01 percent.
Google’s share had been on a tear recently, up about 30 percent in the last 3 months, but there are concerns about the extremely weak PC sales (Intel has seen chip sales very weak) with the increase in smartphones and tablets. It comes down to the basic fact that those items have a much smaller screen, making it more difficult to generate income from advertising. Facebook has the same issues and now we are looking at the release of Apple’s iPad Mini.
Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola which reported a loss for the quarter was also a drag on earnings.
RR Donnelley shares also reacted to the screwup, dropping about 7 percent when it was revealed that botched timing was due to its error. It remains to be seen if there will be substantial repercussions to the company. The company’s shares did end the day off just 1 percent on five times normal volume.