Google halts trades as its profits drop

GOOGLE suspended trading last night after its disappointing results were accidentally released before they were due.

Wall Street was shocked when the company’s third-quarter earnings were released by RR Donnelley, the company that publishes Google’s results, at around 6pm GMT – more than two hours earlier than scheduled. Google said it had suspended shares while it worked to finish the partially-written release, which included the line “PENDING LARRY QUOTE” where a statement from Google chief Larry Page was meant to be.

The shock of the release – along with disappointment at the company’s performance ­– sent the company’s shares down nine per cent before Google demanded trading be halted. The firm unfroze shares at 8.20pm and the stock rebounded slightly, ending the day eight per cent down.

Google saw profits drop 20 per cent to $2.2bn (£1.4bn) in the three months to October, largely due to poor performance at Motorola, the mobile phone manufacturer it acquired last year for $12.5bn. The company’s turnover was $14.1bn ­– a 45 per cent year-on-year rise but some $500m less than expected – while revenue in the UK was $1.2bn.

However, the results were also worrying because they signalled a slowdown in advertising spend. The average cost paid to Google per click on its adverts fell 15 per cent, possibly reflecting worries about the impact of search ads as more people use mobile phones to access the web.