Google's Q4 earnings beat estimates following dispute with Wall Street

After challenging last week that Wall Street expectations for the fourth quarter were too high, Google followed up with its Q4 earnings report on Tuesday after the bell.
(Screenshots by Rachel King/ZDNet)
The Internet giant reported a fourth quarter net income of $2.89 billion, or $8.62 per share (statement). Non-GAAP earnings were $10.65 per share on a revenue of $11.34 billion, excluding traffic acquisition costs (TAC) of $3.08 billion.
Wall Street was expecting Google to report fourth quarter earnings of $10.52 a share on revenue of $12.36 billion.
But Google stipulated that its revenue before subtracting TAC was $14.42 billion, adding that the figure would have been $15.24 billion if Motorola Home had been included.
(Screenshots by Rachel King/ZDNet)
Following the overall positive report, Google shares were up by 4 percent initially in after-hours trading on Tuesday.
CEO Larry Page reflected briefly on the year overall in prepared remarks:
We ended 2012 with a strong quarter. Revenues were up 36 percent year-on-year, and 8 percent quarter-on-quarter. And we hit $50 billion in revenues for the first time last year--not a bad achievement in just a decade and a half. In today’s multi-screen world, we face tremendous opportunities as a technology company focused on user benefit. It's an incredibly exciting time to be at Google.
Last week's kerfuffle with analysts centered around the sale of the Motorola Home unit, which Google sold to the Arris Group for $2.35 billion in December. That deal is expected to close later this year.
Still, Google explained in the earnings report that all financials related to Motorola Home are labeled as a net loss "from discontinued operations on the consolidated statements of income."
More highlights from Google's Q4:
  • Motorola Mobile revenue was $1.51 billion, or 11 percent of Google's consolidated revenues
  • Google revenues equaled $12.91 billion, which accounted for 89 percent of consolidated revenues, a 22 percent increase annually
  • International revenue grew slightly to account for 54 percent of Google revenues, compared with 53 percent in the third quarter.
(Screenshots by Rachel King/ZDNet)
UPDATED: During the quarterly conference call on Tuesday afternoon, Page highlighted some of the biggest products from the quarter--most notably the release of Google Maps for iOS, which was downloaded more than 10 million times in the first 48 hours of availability.
Page also briefly touched on the new $249 Chromebook by Samsung, as well as the new Nexus mobile devices:
It's been a long time in computing since we had this rate of change. Probably hasn't happened since the birth of personal computing. That's why we put so much focus on devices. They've been one of our biggest bets in the last few years, along with the software to go with these devices: Chrome and Android.

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