Wall Street, you've been Punk'd.
Google's quarter was a thing of beauty. Earnings more than quintupled to $1.29 a share for the period, while revenues soared by 93% to hit $1.3 billion. Even if you back out certain favorable one-time charges, earnings still clocked in at a market-thumping $1.12 per share.
Free cash flow during the March quarter came in at $387 million. That is already more than half of the free cash flow that Google generated all of last year.
Then again, while analysts may be flummoxed -- they were looking for the company to earn just $0.92 a share for the quarter -- you probably weren't as surprised. On Wednesday, when Yahoo!
While Google and Yahoo! are the two giants worth watching in paid search, let's not forget that many others like InfoSpace
These companies are too gargantuan to be considered for our growth-investing Rule Breakers newsletter service, but it's clear that paid search has revolutionized the online-content providers by arming sponsors with qualified leads for as little as a nickel. The sheer volume of relevant and targeted pages that the online giants are producing has made it a win-win situation.
So why is it that market analysts are getting Punk'd by Google? Well, the company has refused to provide financial guidance. That has left analysts with little choice but to toil away on their own earnings models, which have clearly erred on the conservative side. You would think that after coming up brutally short all three times, gun-shy professional Google watchers would tweak their optimism. A batter who swings late on every pitch would adjust. A skeet shooter who perpetually misses to the left would adjust. Wall Street? Nope. Not yet.
More of our recent thoughts on Google:
- Yahoo!'s strong quarter should have alerted you to a hearty follow-up from Google.
- Google may be on the hunt.
- Google's seeing double with its Gmail product, and that's a good thing.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a satisfied Google user. However, he does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.