Step aside, here comes Google

January 23, 2009

Google just keeps on truckin’. The Internet powerhouse posted results yesterday that show advertisers haven’t completely cut their spending — at least not on search.

Excluding one-time charges, profit was $5.10 a share, beating the average analyst forecast of $4.95 according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue rose 18 percent to $5.7 billion — a shadow of the 50 percent growth levels that Google used to enjoy, but considered by analysts to be a robust performance given the weak economy and corporate cutbacks in advertising spending.

But CEO Eric Schmidt also took pains to keep investors, analysts and the press realistic about the world today: “Now clearly we’re in a worldwide recession as everybody knows, rising unemployment, foreclosures, that sort of thing,” he said on a conference call. “But we don’t know how long this period will last. We obviously hope it will be short.”

Shares of Google were up more than 4 percent in early trade, and analysts offered mostly upbeat responses to the earnings despite Schmidt’s caution.

“We would be buyers of Google shares coming out of 4Q earnings. Macro risks remain, but we think Google grows high-single digits in ’09 & is among the best-positioned companies to weather the storm,” wrote Barclays analyst Douglas Anmuth, who reiterated an “overweight” rating on the company and set a price target of $460.

You just know this sort of talk drives Steve Ballmer bonkers.

Keep an eye on:

  • Tribune Co selected Tom Ricketts, the head of a Chicago investment bank, as the lead bidder for the Chicago Cubs baseball team, after receiving support from the bankrupt media firm’s creditors (Reuters)
  • General Electric Co reported a 44 percent drop in quarterly profit, while media division NBC Universal’s profit declined 6 percent as strong cable earnings were offset by declines in the local stations (Reuters)
  • The New York Times is in advanced negotiations to sell a substantial portion of its 52-story headquarters building on Eighth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan to W. P. Carey & Company (NY Times)

(Photo: Reuters)

One comment

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Google’s executive leadership team has the strategic foresight to be prepared for their future opportunities. What’s interesting, to me, is how so many other companies have been totally unprepared for this economy. It didn’t have to be that way, since most could have planned better during the good times. My point: short term thinking, by definition, lacks any meaningful foresight.