Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Oct. 13 soundly beat third-quarter earnings expectations, announcing $9.72 billion in sales, excluding traffic acquisition costs paid to ad partners of $2.21 billion.
The earnings marked a 33 percent boost from Q3 2010. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had Google to report net revenue rising 32 percent to $7.21 billion from Q3 2010 on earnings per share of $8.74.
The search engine provider also made a profit of $2.73 billion, compared with $2.17 billion during the same period last year. Google saw paid clicks increase 28 percent from Q3 2010, and 13 percent from Q2.
Google managed to conduct business even as it's embroiled in patent infringement litigation with Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) and indirectly with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) over its open-source Android platform.
The company is also undergoing dual antitrust investigations from the European Commission and the U.S. Justice Department related to its search business and advertising practices. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt testified that Google is not misbehaving against the competition in front of Congress just three weeks ago.
Those dark clouds weren't enough to dampen the spirits of Google CEO Larry Page, who happily announced that the company's fledgling Google+ social network has grown to reach over 40 million users and that "people are flocking into Google+ at an incredible rate."
Launched to limited field testing in June and to public beta Sept. 20, Google+ includes information sharing tools that resemble those found in Facebook, the incumbent it is seeking to challenge for users' attention.
Google has opted to offer a Circles sharing construct, where the default setting is that anyone can follow anyone else on the network.
Google has added well over 100 new features to Google+ since it launched, including real-time search and better hashtags only yesterday. However, such features pale in comparison to what users can expect in the future, according to Page.
"We are still at the very stages of what tech can deliver," Page said of Google+ on the conference call with analysts. "These tools will look very different in five years' time."
Google in the third quarter also announced its intention to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, a play to gain over 17,000 patents to shore up its defenses against Apple, Microsoft and other erstwhile litigants looking to sue the company to halt the spread of Android and Google search.
Consummation of that deal is in limbo; the DOJ is investigating that deal for antitrust concerns as well.
Meanwhile, Google has $42.6 billion in cash in the bank and is still hiring. The company's headcount crossed the 30,000 employee plateau to 31,353 employees, up from 28,768 through the second quarter.