Google’s shares have been suspended after its third-quarter earnings results were accidentally released early and showed a big miss against expected profits and radical slowdown in revenue growth.
The results, which leaked out at 12.31 ET (17.31 BST), came out while the stock market was still open, rather than their scheduled time of 17.30 ET.
Figures filed with the SEC began with the phrase “PENDING LARRY QUOTE” – clearly implying that the document released was not completely ready.
The figures showed that the company had earned $9.03 per share in the third quarter – notably below analysts’ consensus estimates of $10.63.
Google blamed its printers for the leak, saying that RR Donnelley had filed a draft earnings statement to the SEC “without authorization”. The company said it had ceased the trading of its shares whilst working to “finalize the document” – and said it would hold its earnings call at 1.30pm PT as promised.
Revenues were also below expectations, hitting $11.3bn (£7bn) where analysts had expected it to show $11.9bn (£7.38bn). That was a 16% growth from the same period last year – a substantial slowing when the company has been showing revenue growth of more than 20% since the end of 2009, when the financial crisis was at its deepest.
A key reason for the revenue and profit miss seemed to be that people are paying less in “cost-per-click” adverts, suggesting that the widespread shift to mobile use which has affected Facebook’s prospects is starting to affect Google too. Analysts say that the number of searches carried out through desktop computers in the US peaked earlier this year as more and more people use smartphones for searches.
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