Google Inc.'s rapidly rising profits soared to new heights in the third quarter as its Internet-leading search engine churned out a sevenfold earnings improvement that blew past analyst expectations.

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SAN FRANCISCO — Google Inc.’s rapidly rising profits soared to new heights in the third quarter as its Internet-leading search engine churned out a sevenfold earnings improvement that blew past analyst expectations.


The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said today that it made $381.2 million, or $1.32 per share, during the three months ended in September. That compared with net income of $52 million, or 19 cents per share, a year ago. Last year’s results included a $201 million charge to account for a legal settlement with rival Yahoo Inc.


If not for charges related to a recent acquisition and employee stock options issued before the company went public 14 months ago, Google said it would have earned $1.51 per share.


That figure easily exceeded the consensus estimate of $1.36 per share among 31 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. Even the most bullish analysts hadn’t expected Google to fare as well as it did; the highest earnings estimate had been $1.46 per share.


Google’s revenue for the quarter totaled $1.58 billion, nearly doubling from $805.9 million last year. After subtracting the commissions that Google paid to other Web sites in its advertising network, the revenue stood at $1.05 billion, exceeding the Wall Street estimate of $944 million.


The results were released after the stock market closed today. Google’s shares fell $5.50 to close at $303.20 on the Nasdaq Stock Market, then surged by $26.23, or 8.7 percent, in extended trading.


The profit — the highest for any three-month period since Google’s inception seven years ago — came during a typically slow season for Internet companies because people spend less time on their computers during the summer.


Google executives also had warned that it might be difficult for the company to post substantial increases from last year’s third quarter when a flood of publicity devoted to its August 2004 initial public offering helped drive more traffic to its Web site.


But the introduction of new products, such as instant messaging, and upgrades to existing services, such as mapping, helped Google attract more summer traffic than anticipated, executives said during a conference call today.


“We are effectively connecting with users and customers in relevant ways,” Google CEO Eric Schmidt said.


Excluding ad commissions, Google’s third-quarter revenue growth accelerated by 18 percent from the second quarter. The sequential increase was far better than analysts anticipated.


Google’s online search engine remains the company’s moneymaking hub, despite stiffening competition from larger rivals, Yahoo and Microsoft Corp.


As an ever-growing audience flocks to Google’s search engine to find information, more advertisers want to have their Web links displayed alongside search results related to their products and services. The increased ad demand is enabling Google to boost its profit at an astounding pace — something it needs to do to support the lofty price of its stock, which has more than tripled since the company’s IPO.


The growth is helping to fund a steady expansion of Google’s work force. The company hired another 806 employees between June and October, expanding its payroll to just under 5,000 workers.