Google promotes Page to chief

GOOGLE chief executive Eric Schmidt is to step down in April, handing over to co-founder Larry Page, the company said as it smashed earnings forecasts in “phenomenal” fourth quarter results yesterday.

Schmidt will take the role of executive chairman, while Google’s other co-founder Sergey Brin will focus on strategic projects and new products.

The switch is designed to “simplify” the company’s management structure and “streamline” decisionmaking, the company said.

Page described Schmidt as “a tremendous leader”. “There is no other CEO in the world that could have kept such headstrong founders so deeply involved and still run the business so brilliantly,” he said.

Schmidt said it had been “a great privilege” to be Google’s chief executive for more than a decade. “Larry is ready to lead and I’m excited about working with both him and Sergey for a long time to come,” he said.

Chief financial officer Patrick Pichette told a conference call the results were “a phenomenal ending to a very good year at Google.”

The search giant made $2.85bn (£1.78bn) profit, or $8.75 earnings per share, in the quarter excluding exceptional items, trouncing analysts’ forecasts of $8.09. Earnings per share were 16 per cent higher than the $6.79 made a year earlier, while revenues rose to $8.44bn, 26 per cent up on the $6.67bn made a year earlier.

Pichette said Google was particularly proud of its cash accumulation, generating operating cash flow of $3.53bn in the quarter.

Revenue from the UK market rose 14 per cent to $878m, from $772m the previous year.

AT A GLANCE | GOOGLE’S RESULTS
Advert click-throughs
Up 18 per cent year-on-year, and up 11 per cent on the third quarter.
Cost charged per click
Up five per cent year-on-year and four per cent, higher than the third quarter.
Operating income
$3.38bn, up from $2.76bn a year earlier.
Net income
$2.85bn, up from $2.19bn a year earlier.
Android
300,000 new Android phones added per day, and searches on Android were up ten times year on year.
Traffic Acquisition costs
Rose to $2.06bn from $1.72bn the previous year on an absolute basis – but fell as a percentage of revenue to 25.3 per cent, from 26.6 per cent the previous year.