Google 4Q Earnings Nearly Triple

Two people walk past the Google Inc. headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Monday, July 26, 2004. Google announced plans Monday to sell about 25 million shares at up to $135 each when it goes public as early as next month - giving the Internet search engine a market capitalization of as much as $36 billion.
Google Inc.'s fourth-quarter profit nearly tripled amid another burst of breathtaking growth that enabled the online search leader to sprint past analyst expectations — a habit that has helped propel its stock price above $500.

The Mountain View-based company said Wednesday it earned $1.03 billion, or $3.29 per cents per share, during the final three months of 2006. That compared with net income of $372.2 million, or $1.22 per share, during the same period in 2005.

If not for expenses for employee stock compensation and gains from tax benefits, Google said it would have earned $3.18 per share. That figure easily exceeded the average analyst estimate of $2.92 per share among analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial

Google has topped analyst expectations in all but one of its 10 quarters as a publicly held company.

Revenue for the period totaled $3.2 billion, a more than doubling from $1.92 billion in the prior year.

After subtracting commissions paid to its advertising partners, Google fourth-quarter revenue fell to $2.23 billion. That also exceeded the average analyst estimate of $2.19 billion and represented a 20 percent increase from the third quarter.

The sequential change in Google's quarterly revenue is a closely watched among investors.

Despite the robust growth, investors appeared to be expecting more. Google shares rose $7.18 to close at $501.50 on the Nasdaq Stock Market, then dropped $18.30, or 3.7 percent, in extended trading.