Ad revenues help Google to buck slump

Google yesterday said its revenues had increased by 17 per cent between October and 1 December, showing the internet search giant is weathering the advertising recession.

“Given that the global economy is still in the early days of recovery, this was an extraordinary end to the year,” said Google chief executive Eric Schmidt.

But shares in the search engine giant fell four per cent in after-hours trading, as the results came in at the lower end of market expectations.

“They delivered fundamentally sound numbers, but did not deliver a blowout,” said Martin Pyykkonen, senior analyst at Janco Partners.

Investors were also concerned by signs that Google plans to ramp up its capital spending, with Schmidt saying he expects to make an average of one acquisition a month.

“As we enter 2010, we remain hugely optimistic about the internet and are continuing to invest heavily in technological innovation for the benefit not only of our users and customers, but also the wider web,” said Schmidt. The firm said net revenues hit $6.67bn (£4bn) during the quarter, helping lift its net profit to $1.97bn. Revenue from outside the US was 53 per cent of the total.

This compares to just $382m for the same period a year earlier, when it had to write down $1bn to cover a fall in the value of its investments in internet group AOL and wireless service provider Clearwire.
Its results come after Google said earlier this month that it may pull out of China due to concerns that Chinese human rights activities were the victims of cyber-attacks.

The revelation prompted the US government to call on Beijing to investigate the attacks. Secretary of state Hillary Clinton said firms such as Google should refuse to support “politically motivated censorship”.