Google's quarterly earnings beat Wall Street forecasts as strong advertising sales on its self-branded websites helped the Internet leader defy the gloom pervading the tech sector.
"Google performed well in the fourth quarter, despite an increasingly difficult economic environment. Search query growth was strong, revenues were up in most verticals, and we successfully contained costs," said Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. "It's unclear how long the global downturn will last, but our focus remains on the long term, and we'll continue to invest in Google's core search and ads business as well as in strategic growth areas such as display, mobile, and enterprise."
Google also announced today that it is planning to offer employees a voluntary, one-for-one stock option exchange. The program is currently scheduled to begin on January 29, 2009 and end on March 3, 2009, unless Google is required or opts to extend the offer period to a later date.
The company reported revenues of $5.70 billion for the quarter ended December 31, 2008, an increase of 18% compared to the fourth quarter of 2007 and an increase of 3% compared to the third quarter of 2008.
Google-owned sites generated revenues of $3.81 billion, or 67% of total revenues, in the fourth quarter of 2008. This represents a 22% increase over fourth quarter 2007 revenues of $3.12 billion and a 4% increase over third quarter 2008 revenues of $3.67 billion.
Google?s partner sites generated revenues, through AdSense programs, of $1.69 billion, or 30% of total revenues, in the fourth quarter of 2008. This represents a 4% increase over fourth quarter 2007 network revenues of $1.64 billion and a 1% increase over third quarter 2008 network revenues of $1.68 billion.
Revenues from outside of the United States totaled $2.86 billion, representing 50% of total revenues in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared to 48% in the fourth quarter of 2007 and 51% in the third quarter of 2008.
Revenues from the United Kingdom totaled $685 million, representing 12% of revenue in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared to 14% in the fourth quarter of 2007 and 14% in the third quarter of 2008.
Aggregate paid clicks, which include clicks related to ads served on Google sites and the sites of our AdSense partners, increased approximately 18% over the fourth quarter of 2007 and increased approximately 10% over the third quarter of 2008.