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October 19, 2012

Early results release prompts Google stock price collapse

$20bn wiped off value after poor earnings announcement

By Steve Evans

Internet giant Google saw $20bn wiped off its value yesterday after disappointing quarterly financial results were accidentally released early.

Revenue for the quarter was up 45% to $14.1bn, the first time quarter revenue had gone past the $14bn barrier, Google said. However revenue was still well below analyst estimations.

However profit at the company collapsed 20%, falling from $2.73bn last year to $2.18bn this time.

The company’s figures have been hit by costs associated with its $12.5bn acquisition of Motorola Mobility, as well as the strong dollar. Google said revenue would have been $136m higher if foreign exchange rates had remained unchanged.

The poor results were compounded by the accidentally early release, robbing Google of the chance of soothing investor fears over the company’s performance.

Google blamed financial printing firm RR Donnelley for releasing a draft version of the results several hours early. The results were expected to be released after the closing bell in the US.

The shock of the results sent Google shares tumbling 9% in a matter of minutes, wiping $20bn off the company’s valuation. Trading in shares was then suspended while Google readied the finalised version.

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"Earlier this morning RR Donnelley, the financial printer, informed us that they had filed our draft 8K earnings statement without authorisation," Google said in a statement. "We have ceased trading on Nasdaq while we work to finalise the document."

When the final earnings report was eventually released, CEO Larry Page said he was pleased with the company’s performance.

"We had a strong quarter. Revenue was up 45 percent year-on-year, and, at just fourteen years old, we cleared our first $14bn revenue quarter. I am also really excited about the progress we’re making creating a beautifully simple, intuitive Google experience across all devices," he said.

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