July 19, 2012
Analyst Sameet Sinha in “Google Mum on Motorola” with Wall Street Journal
As Profit Rises, Executives Are Coy on Handset Maker and Health of CEO Page
By AMIR EFRATI And JOHN LETZING
Google Inc. GOOG +3.06% Chief Executive Larry Page has lately stayed publicly quiet because he has lost his voice. On Thursday, Google was just as silent about its plans for its newly acquired Motorola hardware business.
While the Mountain View, Calif., Internet giant posted strong financial results for its second quarter—profits rose 11% and revenue including Motorola jumped 35%—Google didn't discuss its plans for the handset maker, which it acquired on May 22 after announcing the $12.5 billion deal last August.
"I need a bit of patience for us to complete our homework as we've been there (at Motorola) for just a few weeks," Google Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette said Thursday during the company's earnings conference call.
The company had previously said Mr. Page wouldn't be on the call. He has stayed out of public view since Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said on June 21 that Mr. Page "lost his voice."
In Thursday's call, Google Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora didn't offer any more details about Mr. Page's health except to say he "continues to run the company."
The earnings report was being closely watched for how Google might treat Motorola, which is the Internet company's first large-scale foray into a hardware business.
In its results, Google reported only Motorola's quarterly results from the point when its purchase closed.
During that roughly five-week period, Motorola brought in $1.25 billion in revenue, with $843 million from its mobile device segment and $407 million from its home segment, which includes set-top boxes. Motorola's operating loss was $233 million.
The loss was more than offset by Google's core online advertising business. Net revenue not including Motorola rose 21% to $8.36 billion.
The results sent Google's shares up 2.9% in after-hours trading to $610.17, even as Wall Street analysts differed on whether Motorola's financial results mattered for the company.
"Google's core business seems to be strong, but in the absence of more insight into Motorola, the stock will languish, said Sameet Sinha, a stock analyst at B. Riley & Co.
"You'll start to see the bears and the bulls diverge on Motorola," said Needham & Co. analyst Kerry Rice, as some will see the hardware unit weighing down Google while others will continue to see it as a wise investment thanks to Motorola's patents and other assets.
Outside of advertising tied to Google's search engine, Mr. Arora also cited growth in Google's YouTube video site as well as its "enterprise" business, or the sale of business software including Gmail and Google Docs, which compete withMicrosoft Corp.'s MSFT -0.05% Office software suite. Google also recently unveiled a plan to compete with Amazon.com Inc. AMZN +0.70% by selling "cloud services," allowing companies to run their applications and store data on computers managed by the Internet giant.
"It's going to be a future growth engine for Google," Mr. Arora said.
Even in Google's core Internet business, however, there were some concerns. For the third straight quarter, some analysts raised questions about Google's sale of ads on mobile devices.
As more people access the Web through their mobile devices, it is expected to hurt companies like Google in the short term because mobile ads cost less than ads viewed on desktop computers.
On Thursday, Google said the average amount paid by advertisers every time someone clicked on their ad fell by 16% compared with the second quarter of last year, worse than the 12% and 8% drops that it reported in its last two quarterly results.
Google partially overcame the drop by selling more ads. The growth of paid clicks—a measure of how frequently consumers click on its ads—continued to accelerate, rising by 42% in the second quarter compared with a year earlier.
Still, such growth "is not offsetting" the pricing pressures Google is facing from its mobile-ad business, said Mr. Sinha, the stock analyst.
Google posted an overall profit of $2.79 billion, or $8.42 a share, up from $2.51 billion, or $7.68 a share, a year earlier. Overall revenue rose to $12.21 billion from $9.03 billion, thanks to the revenue from Motorola.
Google said it had $43.1 billion in cash at the end of June, down from $49.3 billion. Its headcount at the end of June was 54,604, including 20,293 employees at Motorola.
—Ben Fox Rubin contributed to this article.