I’ve been tough on Google this year, and with good reason. Part of what I do is write about how technology impacts the financial fortunes of companies and Google has been losing market share to the lousy economy and to other web portal developers in recent months.
Look at online advertising – some estimates that paid “clicks” – where Web 2.0 providers make their bread and butter – have been off by anywhere from 5% to 15% so far in 2008. And reports from users of Google AdWords – despite a big splash in 2006 and 2007 when paid search was getting a lot of good press – had users shrugging their shoulders and going “eh”.
So, today, my hat is off to Google, as its first-quarter financial numbers came in higher than the experts anticipated. That bodes well for both Google and entire online ad industry.
As Colin Gillis, an analyst with Canaccord Adams. "The boys delivered."
Boy, did they ever. Google reported that first-quarter net income rose to $1.31 billion, or $4.12 per diluted share, from $1 billion, or $3.18 per share, in the year-earlier quarter. Quarterly profits came in at $4.84 a share, well on top of the average Wall Street forecast of $4.53.
No doubt that things have slowed down a bit for Google. For Q1, gross revenue rose 42 percent to $5.19 billion. Compare that to the same period in 2007, when Google's revenue grew at a 63 percent clip. But on Wall Street, it’s all about beating the expectations game and Google did just that. Analysts had figured on revenues growing at a 40 percent rate, up to $5.13 billion.
But it’s in the online ad market where Google shocked the Street. Traffic acquisition costs -- the cut of advertising revenue Google pays out to affiliated sites that run its ads – clocked in at 29 percent of ad revenue in the first quarter this year, compared to 31 percent in 2007. In this economy, that’s pretty impressive.
Investors jumped in – perhaps “dived in” is a more apt phrase – into Google shares after the numbers rolled in today. Share prices were up 12 percent, to $501 per share.
With ebay and IBM also coming in with decent quarterly numbers, the outlook for the tech sector is the highest it’s been all year.
And it’s about time.