Are Expectations For Google's Success Too High For Its Own Good?


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Google released their earnings for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2011 yesterday and it was good. There wasn't much to be disappointed about: they're still making mega-gobs of money and more and more people seem to be flocking to their services.

WebProNews gave you the run-down of Google's conference where they revealed that their Google Sites revenues were up 29% over their fourth quarter earnings in 2010 and that they passed the $10 billion mark for quarterly earnings, a first in their history. Even their growth from the third quarter to the fourth quarter in 2011 was up 9%.

Everything's up! Everybody's rich! If you work at Google you can't even pour a cup of coffee in your office without the bass line from The O'Jay's 'For The Love Of Money' playing automatically.

So... why're people disappointed with Google's record-breaking earnings?

Reuters reports that analysts "zeroed in on an 8 percent drop in cost-per-click, or money paid by marketers to the company for search ads, versus analyst estimates of a slight increase."

Mayuresh Masurekar, an analyst at Colins Stewart, told Reuters, "The major question is: Is this a one-time thing or is this something that is going to continue because the nature of the business has changed."

Even the tea leaf readers on Twitter echoed the sentiment.

Google’s Q4 Miss: Street Cites FX Issues, Tax Rate, Weak CPC: No surprise here: Google shares are trading lower ... 32 minutes ago via twitterfeed · powered by @socialditto

Google stock plummets amid disappointing Q4 earnings 18 hours ago via zdnet API · powered by @socialditto

Google shares dive 10% after Q4 earnings miss expectations via @SVSJbizjournal 8 minutes ago via Tweet Button · powered by @socialditto

Google’s Q4 doesn’t measure up to past success - Marketing News | UTalkMarketing 19 minutes ago via Tweet Button · powered by @socialditto

The results were disappointing enough that the speculators on Wall Street, in their esoteric wisdom, considered Google's earnings to have missed expectations - a declaration that sent shares of Google falling more than 9% after the earnings were announced. The Wall Street Journal elaborated on the reaction from investors and said, "Though Google's quarterly performance still represented a sequential increase, investors voiced concerns that its growth had decelerated from previous quarters. The company's net revenue of $8.13 billion missed consensus estimates of $8.4 billion."

$270,000,000 is a ton of money, don't get me wrong. It's more money than I will see in my entire lifetime; I probably won't even earn a quarter of that while I'm alive. It's so much money that it might as well be Monopoly money. But still, in terms of Google Bucks, it's only a little over 3% of that $8.13 net revenue they posted and when you're parsing money expectations in the value of billions, should this really be enough of a "loss" to send Google shares into a decline?

Based on the effect the news of Google's earnings had on the stock market, the answer would be a resounding yes: all of these "concerns" expressed by shamans of Wall Street were enough to send Google's shares dropping more than $57.

Google's shares have started to recover a little bit today, only being down $50.96 this morning, but all of this market speculation has got me wondering: what do people really expect of Google? Saying that Google "underperformed" despite their shares being some of the most valuable on the market and they posted significant increases revenues from not just last quarter but last year is puzzling and so I would really like to know exactly what analysts expect from Google? Would that $270 million of missed revenue really have made that much of a difference in the success of a company that is now making over $10 billion for quarterly earnings? Google still generating tons of revenue. What kind of bizarro market declares the earnings of billions but not enough billions to be a disappointment? It seems ludicrous.

So what do you think? Is this a tempest in a tea cup that Wall Street is stirring with Google? Are expectations so high for Google right now that anything short of generating profits laced in Martian gold is considered a disappointment? Seriously, what do people expect from Google these days when something like making more billions of dollars doesn't quite get it done? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Like The O'Jays told you all: don't let money ruin ya.