Google's Results Miss Expectations, but Investors Remain Bullish

Despite lower-than-expected revenues and profits in Q1, Google's stock price remains strong.


For the sixth time in the last nine quarters, Google reported revenues and earnings that were less than expected by Wall Street analysts.

But investors themselves appeared largely unperturbed by the trend, pushing the company's stock prices up by more than 3.5 percent following the company's latest earnings report on April 23.

For the first quarter ended March 31, 2015, Google reported net earnings of $3.6 billion on revenues of $17.3 billion, compared with the profits of $3.5 billion it earned on revenues of $15.4 billion during the same period last year.

The latest figures represented a 12 percent revenue growth year over year and a 3.8 percent increase in profits between Google's first-quarter earnings in 2014 and this year.

Even so, Google's revenues were short of the $17.5 billion that analysts had estimated the company would make in the first quarter, while its earnings per share of $6.57 was short by 3 cents of the $6.60 that Wall Street had expected it to make.

In a statement announcing the results, Google CFO Patrick Pichette noted that the company's first-quarter revenue would have been stronger had it not been for a strong dollar. "Excluding the net impact of foreign currency headwinds, revenue grew a healthy 17% year on year," Pichette said. "We continue to see great momentum in our mobile advertising business and opportunities with brand advertisers."

Once again, revenues from Google's core search engine-driven ad business contributed nearly 90 percent, or about $15.5 billion, of the company's total revenue. Aggregate paid clicks increased 13 percent year over year, while the number of paid clicks on Google Websites increased 25 percent.

The numbers reflect Google's dominating presence in the search market.

But in keeping with recent quarters, the amount of money that Google is actually making per paid click declined in the last quarter, while the cost to the company of acquiring those clicks increased. Cost-per-click fell 13 percent in the past 12 months while traffic acquisition costs, operating expenses and other costs of doing business increased from $3.2 billion to $3.3 billion.

Meanwhile, revenues from Google's myriad other activities, including its Android and cloud platforms, accounted for about $1.7 billion. While that represented only a tenth of Google's overall revenue, it was one of the fastest-growing areas of the business for Google, growing about 23 percent from the same quarter last year.

Google's results have come under increasing scrutiny in recent quarters from Wall Street analysts, who keep setting higher revenue and profit goals each quarter than the company has been able to meet. While the missed expectations have caused some financial analysts to wonder if the company's pace of growth may be slowing down, investors and trade industry analysts themselves remain bullish on Google.

"This is just Google," independent analyst Jeff Kagan said, referring to the challenges the company appears to be having in its core ad business. "This is the same problem Google has been dealing with for years and it continues, but it does not hurt the company."

Google is a different kind of company these days. Year after year, Google has entered into new industries and businesses that for the most part are not profitable. "They are great for us to talk about, and they are a great way for Google to play around with ideas and the future," Kagan said.

But as its core, Google remains a search engine-driven company, he said. "Things can get a bit confusing at Google as well with all these separate sectors they are playing in," Kagan said. "However, when everything is said and done, Google is Google and they continue to grow, at least for now."

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.