Google This: Shares of Tech Stock Getting Hammered

Yesterday, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) blacked out its logo in protest of a pending anti-piracy bill. Today the tech stock suffered a virtual blackout following a rare miss on its quarterly earnings.

Shares of Google’s stock fell 7.6% in the hour after the market closed after reporting $9.50 in per-share earnings for the fourth quarter – well short of analysts’ expectations of $10.49 a share.

Weaker-than-expected advertising revenue was the main culprit behind Google’s earnings miss. The average cost per click that Google advertisers paid declined 8% from a year ago. It was the company’s first decline in that area in years.

Still, the sky isn’t exactly falling for the world’s fourth-largest tech stock by market cap. Google still managed to eke out $10.6 billion in revenue – a 25% improvement from a year ago. Its new social network, Google+, more than doubled its users during the fourth quarter from 40 million to 90 million.  

While the company’s earnings per share fell short of expectations, at $9.50 they were still well ahead of the $8.75 earnings per share during the same quarter a year ago.

"We had, actually, quite a solid Q4 performance," senior vice-president Patrick Pichette insisted. "We had such an amazing Q4 of 2010 that it's really hard to compare. We continue to grow strong."

Google’s stock is currently trading at $588 a share, down from $639.57 when the market closed today. It’s the first time the stock has dipped below $600 since November. 

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