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1/22/2013
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Google Tops $50 Billion For 2012

Google's strong Q4 2012 earnings beat analysts' expectations.

Google reported Tuesday that it earned $14.42 billion in Q4 2012, beating expectations and sending the stock up 4% in after-hours trading.

Google shares closed down 1.64 points for the day, but reversed the decline after the market closed, rising more than 34 points in the hours following Google's financial filing.

The company's non-GAAP earnings-per-share came to $10.65. Analysts had been expecting $12.36 billion in revenue for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters, and $10.52 per share.

In a statement, Google CEO Larry Page said that revenue rose 36% compared to 2011 and 8% compared to the same quarter a year ago. "And we hit $50 billion in revenues for the first time last year," he said.

The company appears to have succeeded in its effort to mitigate potential disappointment by reminding Wall Street analysts to update their estimates to account for Google's agreement to sell its Motorola Home set-top box business to Arris Group for $2.35 billion.

In a note posted to Google's investor website last week, VP Brent Callinicos, treasurer and chief accountant for the company, wrote, "as of this writing, a majority of Wall Street analysts who cover Google have not reflected the Home business as discontinued operations in their estimates."

[ The smartphone wars rage on. See the latest: iPhone Beats Android In U.S. Market. ]

Google appears to have been concerned that investors might be confused about what the company would be including in its revenue numbers. But the company's strong performance made such worries moot.

On Google's conference call for investors, Page's voice sounded raspy and strained, sufficiently so that several reporters listening in on the call noted via Twitter how unusual he sounded. Page did not participate in Google's Q2 2102 earnings conference as a result of an undisclosed ailment that affected his voice. When he did speak during the Q3 2012 call, his voice was hoarse.

Google declined to comment about Page's voice. Once Page stopped reading from prepared remarks and started responding to questions, he sounded somewhat improved.

But perhaps more troubling was the lack of numbers to back up Page's claims about how well things have been going. Page said Samsung's new Chromebook was "a holiday highlight." He added, "I love mine. It's super-easy to use and it almost maintains itself." But he failed to provide sales figures for Chromebooks of any sort.

Page went on to highlight progress Google has made with Web and voice search, as well as its effort to integrate its Knowledge Graph database into search results.

Page also called attention to the popularity of the company's Nexus 4 phone and its Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets, again without citing sales figures. However, he did acknowledge that Google can improve how it manages its supply chain. "Clearly, there's work to be done managing our supply better, as well as building a great customer experience," he said. "And that is a priority for the teams."

Page didn't miss the opportunity to celebrate how well Google's iOS apps have been doing. He noted that Google Maps for iOS was downloaded over 10 million times during its first 48 hours of availability and that six Google apps, including Chrome, Google Search, Gmail and YouTube, were included in the Apple App Store list of the Best Free Apps of 2012.

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