No surprise here -- the latest numbers from Google
Regardless of whether you're a bull or a bear on the Google question, the best way to make a sound investment decision is by gathering up as much pertinent information as possible. That's where "Fool on Call" comes in. This column offers insights from one of the best sources of information on publicly traded companies -- quarterly earnings conference calls.
In this edition of "Fool on Call," we will focus our attention on Google's recent strides in the international market, a topic that came up multiple times throughout the company's latest call.
Google going global
Right from the outset of the call, it was made clear that management is very excited about the company's recent performance in international markets. Even at the close of the prepared-statements section of the call, management again reminded investors and analysts about the company's successes overseas. In CEO Eric Schmidt's closing statement, he states, "I'm very impressed that the global growth strategy of Google continues to work very, very well."
While domestic growth remains stout, "Performance internationally is even better," Schmidt revealed. He added that growth is coming from "many [international] markets" and said the company's ability to replicate its success elsewhere offers validation of its business model.
A little later in his prepared remarks, Schmidt got a little more specific in naming Europe and Asia -- specifically China -- as important growth regions. CFO George Reyes indicated that the U.K. was "particularly strong" with 23% revenue growth. Is that year-over-year growth? Nope, that growth is sequential; Google increased revenues in the U.K. by 23% from just a quarter ago. Now that's impressive!
During the question-and-answer session of the call, one analyst asked whether management could comment further on the U.K. market. Omid Kordestani from Google's global sales division, in response, indicated that the overall economy in the U.K. is very strong right now. Beyond a favorable macro-economic environment, the online advertising market in general is very healthy right now, as a relatively weak TV ad market is compelling advertisers to adopt an online platform more quickly. The environment is certainly positive, but Kordestani added that the company itself is doing a better job of tuning into the seasonality of certain advertising -- like travel, for instance. Plus, U.K. customers are showing a "strong interest" in its new advertising formats.
In addition to the U.K., Reyes added that Germany, France, Ireland, and Spain are also doing very well for the company. He also highlighted Japan and Australia as two markets that contributed to "meaningful" growth in the quarter, in addition to smaller markets such as Korea. It is worth taking special note of Google's early successes in Japan, given the country's competitive environment; Yahoo!
It appears that one of the things driving growth overseas is the increasing accessibility and relevance of its products. For instance, we learned that its "Docs & Spreadsheets" product is now available in 15 languages, thus making it available to key markets around the world.
I checked out Docs & Spreadsheets myself, and I think it has a chance to be a real winner, particularly in more developing markets. In developing countries where cost factors dictate that centralized community-access computing is more of the norm, rather than personal computing, the ability to log on from any computer and still have access to the same documents is extremely useful. Such is the functionality of this service that it may even one day change how education is implemented in less financially stable communities. I was pleased to hear in the call that companies from Kenya and Rwanda were taking advantage of these products through Google Apps Premier.
Good jump on the global market
Google's early successes overseas couldn't happen at a better time. In a previous "Fool on Call" focusing on one of Google's competitors, Yahoo! outlined an aggressive international growth strategy by which to implement its new ad system, called Project Panama. On the international front, Yahoo! plans to unveil Project Panama first in Japan this quarter and then hit other key markets throughout the remainder of the year. Yahoo! may find itself facing a little tougher sledding overseas, now that Google has established a strong beachhead.
The strength of the international business is perhaps most evident in Google's revenue breakdown; currently, international sales are 47% of total revenue. During the Q&A, management indicated that it expects global revenue to soon surpass the 50% mark. As Google continues to roll out important and relevant products like Docs & Spreadsheets, I suspect that we will see it eclipse this mark much sooner than later.
Google just seems to continually be one step ahead of the competition; its recent success overseas further reinforces this point. But can Google hold its position as Yahoo! unveils its new system over the coming quarters? This will be one of the storylines to pay attention to in 2007 and 2008.