So far, the closest Google has ever come to delivering bad news was during its second-quarter conference call of 2005, when the company emphasized that the third quarter was a seasonally slow period and suggested that the unusually high buzz over its IPO a year before had set a high bar. Analysts who fell for that trap were on the short end of the stick, but that's been the norm for the market's finest model-munchers.
But let's be realistic. After being humbled for five straight quarters, analysts are getting aggressive with their optimism by raising their projections and profit targets almost monthly. In fact, over the past three months, Wall Street consensus estimates for Google's 2006 profitability have grown from $8.36 to $8.76 per share.
That means Google will miss, and when it does, it won't be pretty.
However, that miss won't come next week. Yes, Yahoo!
There are certainly plenty of worrisome signs for Google to heed, such as Yahoo! rolling out its Yahoo! Publisher Network in beta this past summer and Microsoft
The competition has been fierce. Yahoo! was able to wrestle iVillage
But again, that's not going to be next Tuesday, as Google takes to the podium with "$1.76 per share" for the quarter as the backdrop from analysts. My bet is on Google coming out ahead, but not as far ahead as in the past. The stumble may happen later in the year -- as analysts and the competition finally catch up to the Google monster -- but not now.
Not now -- but soon.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a huge fan of Google, and it would be his homepage if it weren't for Fool.com. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.