As the first online bellwether to report this earnings season, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) is kicking off this party with a bang.
The world's leading search engine delivered blowout results last night. Revenue after deducting traffic acquisition costs grew 37% to $7.51 billion. Adjusted earnings climbed 27% to $9.72 a share. Don't start bellyaching about the margin contraction implied by Google's top line growing faster than its bottom line. Analysts were settling for an adjusted profit of only $8.74 a share on $7.21 billion in revenue.
Google is growing quickly on all fronts. Its global headcount of full-time employees is up 9% during just July, August, and September. The beefed up army is working on projects that may not be bottom-line winners right away. Its Google social networking initiative now has 40 million registered users. Its Android mobile operating system continues to pad its lead over Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iOS.
These projects aren't getting in the way of Google's flagship search business. Paid clicks rose 28% during the period, and advertisers are paying 5% more per lead than they were a year ago, though that metric did slip sequentially.
We can't assume that Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) , AOL (Nasdaq: AOL ) , and smaller ad-based Internet companies will perform as well as Google did when they step up with their quarterly financials in the coming days. Even Google's partners aren't doing as well as Big G itself. Revenue for Google's owned sites surged 39% during the period, while third-party websites on its AdSense platform saw their revenue climb by only 18%.
Short of the sequential dip in revenue per click this was a nearly flawless quarter for Google. The stock popped higher initially on the strong numbers, because Google is no party pooper. Then again, until proven otherwise, we'll have to consider this a party of one.
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