Google Spills Earnings Early, Made Way Less Money This Quarter Than Everyone Thought

It's easy to get caught up in the Wall Street expectations game, under whose rules Google just had a disastrous third quarter. But while earnings were down significantly year over year, and were well below analyst expectations, the company still hauled in over two billion dollars of income on $14.10 billion of revenue. That's got to count for something, right?

The release came earlier than expected; Google's not holding a call to discuss the quarter until 4:30 EDT, and the numbers usually roll out about an hour before that. And as you can see, the SEC release even had a placeholder for CEO Larry Page to make a comment that, at the time of its release, hadn't yet been made.

But since they're here, let's talk about 'em! Google and its affiliates brought in $11.53 billion in revenue, of which $7.73 billion came from Google-owned sites. Paid clicks were up 33% (that's good!) but cost-per-click, a crucial profitability metric, fell 15% year over year (that's bad!). The company's got over $45 billion cash on hand, which pales in comparison to Apple's war chest but is still pretty darned impressive.

So why is Wall Street so hot and bothered, sending Google stocks plummeting 10% already? Because the numbers, while generally strong, don't live up to analyst spreadsheets. And that's fine! Stock prices are based on guesses, and what we're watching with the stock drop is reality setting in. But don't read too much into it in terms of Google's overall health. Most tech companies would kill for these numbers, expectations or no.

We'll be on the call later today in case any details slip out, or just for an excuse to once again hear Larry Page's dulcet tones. [SEC]