Google eyes the bigger picture while missing Wall Street's expectations

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Chris Velazco
April 23rd, 2015
In this article: ads, earnings, finance, financial, google, youtube
Google eyes the bigger picture while missing Wall Street's expectations

It's earnings time once more, and Google's gone and done it again. Despite taking in $17.3 billion in revenue over the past three months (that's a 12 percent lift over how much it made this time last year), the search giant still managed to whiff slightly when it came to pleasing Wall Street's persnickety analysts. If you've been paying attention the these earnings releases (dry though they may be), none of this will be news to you. Google's track record over the past few years is filled with more Wall Street misses than hits, and this'll be the company's sixth consecutive whiff. But does Google care? Yeah, no.

It's as much a systematic problem as anything -- analysts are sticklers for the short term, while Google's zeal for dumping cash into research and development mean the company's clearly trying to work things out on a larger scale. Larry Page and Sergey Brin said as much in the company's 2004 IPO letter. Meanwhile, outgoing CFO Patrick Pichette was adamant when he said that the core of the company's ad business is strong. Sure, it might be facing stiff competition from rivals like Facebook, but it still works. Let's not forget that Google raked in a cool $15.5 billion in advertising revenue in the past quarter, and is currently sitting atop a huge pile of money -- think just under $65.5 billion, or about enough to build 5 aircraft carriers. Those numbers might not please prognosticators, but it's plenty to devote to moonshot and the only slightly kooky concepts that have a real shot at changing the more pedestrian truths of daily life. Project Fi, anyone? Part of that means continuing to dump money into building and maintaining data centers (Google spent $2.9 billion on such capital expenditures over the past three months), not to mention pushing its vision of a mobile computing experience even harder.

The phrase "pivot to mobile" basically peppered today's earnings conference call, and Chief Business Officer Omid Kordestani said the company was "laser-focused" on understanding how people interact with information on their phones versus on their computers. That sort of insight is crucial to keeping Google's cash cow ad business healthy and relevant, and it's kind of neat to see ad-centric thinking converted into new services like Project Fi and a focus on making mobile better for everyone.

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