Revenue climbs 33 percent on strong ad sales By Ki Mae Heussner
Since his widely panned earnings call debut in April, Google’s notoriously stoic CEO Larry Page has generously peppered his presentations with the word “excited.” But his latest attempts at pep were even more pronounced.
During the company’s earnings call Thursday, Page told analysts, “When I look over the last quarter, the word that springs to mind is gangbusters!”
Later, in talking about the growth of Google+, his newfound hyperbole reached even greater heights.
User experiences should be “automagical,” he said. “We’ve shipped the +, and now we’re going to ship the Google part.”
Of course, Page has good reason to wax enthusiastic about his company’s growth.
In the third quarter, Google reported that revenue climbed 33 percent to $9.72 billion and net income rose 26 percent to $2.73 billion, exceeding analysts’ expectations. In after hours, shares in Google jumped more than 6 percent to $592.90.
“Not bad for a 13-year-old,” Page quipped.
The company said revenue grew on advertising (search, display, video, and mobile). Aggregated paid clicks increased 28 percent year over year and 13 percent over the second quarter of 2011, the company said. Page also said they made a significant effort to streamline their business, closing down 20 products.
From its mobile advertising business, the company said it now generates about $2.5 billion in revenue. And Nikesh Arora, Google’s chief business officer, said that the average size of the company’s display advertising deals is now about about $15 million, up from $2 million in 2009.
Despite the strength of the company’s overall report, when asked to comment on regional business, Arora said that Western Europe was “soft.” He declined to elaborate further, but emphasized that it was softness, “not weakness.”
Since its launch in July, Google+ has swelled to more than 40 million members and includes more than 100 features, Page said, adding that it’s still early and the company plans to further integrate it with Google.
Going into the call, some analysts said they had questions about the company’s plan to acquire Motorola Mobility, but when asked Page declined to provide details, citing the fact that the deal has not yet been approved.
Page also declined to discuss the company’s YouTube strategy when asked to explain the different categories of content, from user-generated to higher-quality, so-called “premium” material.
“[It’s just tremendously successful and growing gangbusters in every way,” he said. “It really blurs the line between the kind of content that you’re talking about. . . . Our users don’t think about it that way.”
On the topic of patent lawsuits with Microsoft and recent reports that some Google partners are agreeing to pay Microsoft licensing fees, Page was equally vague when asked if the company planned to subsidize a portion of those fees.
“Rather than seeing, for example, Microsoft compete in the marketplace with their own smartphone, they continue resorting to legal measures,” he said. “It seems kind of odd.”
For its part, Wall Street seemed uniformly pleased with Google’s report.
“They’re doing a great job of continuing to grow despite the law of large numbers,” said Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, said Google’s growth should be a lesson to competitors who aren’t blending advertising and online experiences as seamlessly as Google.
“The days of thinking people will just absorb advertising is over,” he said. “The age of interruption advertising is over.”