What to look for in Google’s earnings report

JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES - (FILES) (FILES) - Picture taken on November 18, 2010 shows the Google logo on bags during a press conference in Hamburg on the launch of Google's street info service "Street View".

Google is set to report its fourth-quarter earnings figures after the markets close Tuesday, coming off what many expect will be a strong holiday quarter.

Last quarter, the company’s stock took a hit when it missed estimates and saw its report inadvertently published earlier than expected. Google reported $11.3 billion in revenue, below expectations of around $11.8 billion. The consensus projection headed into the report Tuesday is that the company will report around $12.3 billion in revenue.

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Analysts said they will be looking closely at trends in how much advertising revenue the company is making per click, as well as the amount of money it’s spending on projects.

In an note to investors, BCG Partners analyst Colin Gillis said that Google’s continued growth in the Android market may be driving the average cost per advertising click down, as mobile ads are far less lucrative than their desktop counterparts.

He also said that Google’s expenses may be growing too quickly.

“While we appreciate that Google is chasing after significant opportunities with its efforts in smart phones, tablets, and broadband Internet access, and understand the company is positioning to possibly generate meaningful future revenue streams,” Gillis wrote, “we remain concerned on the degree of expense being created.”

Gillis has rated Google as a hold.

Most analysts still have Google as a “Buy” stock, according to analysis from on NASDAQ’s Web site.

Still, Tuesday’s earnings reports may hold some surprises.

Google released a statement Friday also warning that analysts may not have properly accounted for the sale of its Motorola Home division, which makes set-top boxes and other media technology.

“[People] who follow our company may not be fully aware of how it impacts our financial reporting,” Brent Callinicosm, Google vice president, treasurer and chief accountant said Friday, noting that the company has to report results from Motorola Home as “discontinued operations.”

Recent reports also indicate that Google may be losing some of its search market share. A report from the British paper the Telegraph said that the company saw its marketshare in the United Kingdom drop below 90 percent for the second month in a row, ceding some share to Microsoft’s Bing and Ask.com.

Earlier this month, comScore reported that Google’s share in the United States had also recently fallen slightly, down to 66.7 percent in December from 67 percent in November. While hardly an earth-shattering decline, Search Engine Land’s Danny Goodwin noted that the change gave Bing the chance to move to a new company high of 16.3 percent, while Yahoo also saw a modest gain to grab 12.2 percent of the market.

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