Google's Early Filing Problem: Human Error

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It was kind of a big deal when Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) reported earnings four hours early yesterday. Investors, used to the luxury of sitting back in after-market stillness to process fresh numbers before making any market moves, found themselves scrambling for an edge during market hours. And the mistake was further magnified by a weak report -- market-moving news of the highest order.

So how did Google's report-filing partner, R. R. Donnelley (Nasdaq: RRD  ) , end up sending an unedited 8-K filing to the SEC with unfinished prose like "PENDING LARRY QUOTE" front and center?

According to Donnelley CEO Tom Quinlan, the rushed filing was a simple mistake. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Quinlan pinned the problem on "human error," but noted that Donnelley is investigating the exact course of events. Donnelley had not responded to The Motley Fool's information requests as of this writing.

The company is a leader in the specialized field of filing documents with the SEC, and has managed Google's document flow since the original IPO prospectus. Donnelley "has set an expectation of zero errors," according to the company's website, but it looks like nobody's perfect after all.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of Google. Check out Anders' bio and holdings, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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