UPDATE, 12:32 PM: Google resumed trading at 3:20 ET and is hovering around -8%. It also released an official version of the earnings report with a quote from CEO Larry Page that does little to help his image. Instead of forthrightly acknowledging Google’s problems, he says that it had a “strong quarter” and he’s “really excited about the progress we’re making creating a beautifully simple, intuitive Google experience across all devices.”
PREVIOUS, 11:26 AM: What a mess. Google’s stock price fell more than 9% shortly after noon ET when, the company says, publisher R.R. Donnelley & Sons released a draft of the earnings report “without authorization.” The search giant reported Q3 net earnings of $2.18B, down 20.3% vs the period last year, on revenues of $11.53B, +18.6%. That’s short of the $11.86B analysts expected. And earnings per share of $9.03 missed the $10.65 that the Street anticipated. One reason for the decline: Google took a $349M charge related to its acquisition in May of Motorola Mobility. But Google says it suspended trading in the stock while it sorts out the problems from the early release of the earnings report, which was supposed to be made public after the market closes. The filing clearly wasn’t ready: On top of the press release — where the company typically runs a comment from CEO Larry Page — it says: “PENDING LARRY QUOTE.” Donnelley is “fully engaged in an investigation to determine how this event took place and are pursuing our first obligation – which is to serve our valued customer,” the company told The Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, the Google earnings showed surprising weakness in several areas. For example the price per click was down about 15%, possibly due to the company’s inability to charge as much for mobile as it can on other platforms. Revenues at Motorola Mobility also were -20%. Barclays Equity Research’s Anthony DiClemente says that the Google sell off “presents a buying opportunity” since the Street “was overly optimistic going into the quarter and did not fully discount the potential [Motorola Mobility] drag on the business.”