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Google Q3: Economy Frightful, Profits Still Delightful

The rate of user clicks on Google ads went up 18% in Q3, boosting search ad revenue and overall income to $5.54 billion - a 31% increase over Q3 last year.

After issuing commissions to ad partners, revenue remained an impressive $4.04 billion, beating Wall Street profit estimates. Net income for the quarter ending Sept. 30 was also in healthy double digits (+26%) with earnings topping out at $1.35 billion, or $4.24 a share.

Some analysts cut revenue and profit forecasts for Google, assuming the economic climate would drive marketers to scale online ad spend back. But search advertising — one of the fastest growing segments of online advertising, and the core of Google's business — is also the most resilient during a recession, writes the New York Times.

Google acknowledges the somber state of the global economy but remains optimistic, set to move forward with improvements to its core business — search ads — while investing in growth areas like enterprise, mobile, and display, said CEO Eric Schmidt.

Even so, shareholders may yet experience a rocky ride. Analysts insist Google cannot be completely immune to the economic conditions, and will face other challenges relating to its still-enviable growth, such as management and organizational issues. (Foreboding alone can affect a company's fate. In Q2, Google's stock suffered even after it announced a 39 percent increase over 2Q07 — and paltry three percent growth over 1Q08.)

If growth continues to slow, Google may also have to limit expenses. Keeping costs down will be a constant focus, Schmidt said.

Despite concerns, Google shares surged $36.97, or 10.5%, in Thursday's extending trading after finishing the regular session at $353.02, up $13.85. Earlier in the day, pessimism over what the Q3 earnings report might reveal lowered Google's stock price to a three-year low of $309.44.

Google's trajectory over the last six months:

google-stock-chart-april08-oct08.jpg

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