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Google's Quarter Beats Forecasts, but Shares Slide

Googlereported both earnings and revenue that beat what Wall Street was expecting, but the results weren't enough to please investors, who pushed the stock lower in late trading.

Google's revenue grew 17 percent, as advertisers and Web surfers turned to the Internet search engine during the holiday shopping season. But Google's revenue came in at the low end of the "whisper numbers" expected by some investors, and its shares fell in after-hours trade Thursday.

Analysts also pointed to signs that Google was ramping up spending as a possible cause for concern, but said that overall the company continued to dominate the Internet search market and delivered a strong quarterly report that fell short of only Wall Street's most bullish forecasts.

"All of those things they report at a basic level were fine,'' said Martin Pyykkonen, senior analyst at Janco Partners. "The reason the stock is down is that it wasn't a blowout. I think the stock will recover. I don't think it will fall through the floor.

The online advertising and Internet search giant reported a profit of $6.79 a share in the fourth quarter excluding one-time items, against earnings of $5.10 a share in the same period last year.

Sales for the most recent period, excluding traffic-acquisition costs, rose to $4.95 billion, up from $4.221 billion last year.

Analysts who follow Google saw the company turning in a profit of $6.48 a share, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters. Sales were seen at $4.919 billion.

In late trading Thursday, shares of Google were down more than 4 percent. Get after-hour quotes for Google here.

Google Headquarters
AP
Google Headquarters

The stock finished the regular Nasdaq session less than 1 percent higher at $582.98.

Google said its headcount increased to 19,835 employees in the quarter, reversing three consecutive quarters of declines. And the company said it expected to continue to make significant capital expenditures.

"As we enter 2010, we remain hugely optimistic about the Internet and are continuing to invest heavily in technological innovation for the benefit not only of our users and customers, but also the wider Web," said Chief Executive Eric Schmidt.