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from the L.A. Times

Google shares plunge after earnings miss


Larry Page's honeymoon at the helm of Google may be officially over.

Google reported strong fourth-quarter revenue and profit results after the market closed Thursday (including quarterly revenue of $10.58 billion, its highest for a single quarter) but they missed analyst expectations.

Revenue in the three months ended in December rose to $8.13 billion, with earnings per share of $9.50. Analysts had expected $8.43 billion and $10.51.

Google shares plunged $59.08, or 9%, to $579.30 in after-hours trading.

Page, the chief executive, did not acknowledge the shortfalls in a statement: "Google had a really strong quarter ending a great year."

He added that the company's Google+ social network has grown to 90 million users, more than double the number it announced in October.

Google is also continuing its hiring spree. It hired more than 1,000 people in the last three months of the year. It now has 32,467 full-time staffers.

Despite concerns that Google is spending loads of money, Wall Street had seemed more confident that Page was the right steward to keep Google's moneymaking machine on track. The stock had gained 7% since Page took over as CEO last April.


Google sales, profit crush Wall Street estimates

Larry Page, back as Google CEO, shakes up top ranks

Google+ may reach 400 million users by end of 2012

-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Google co-founder Larry Page looks on during a product launch on February 24, 2010. Photo credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

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