Earnings Report: Google FTW!

Google’s annual sales have eked past $50 billion, thanks to a blow-out fourth quarter with sales far higher than what analysts had been expecting.

Google’s fourth-quarter revenues were $14.4 billion, well above the $12.4 billion that analysts had been expecting. Sales were up 36% from the fourth quarter of 2011.

Earnings also beat expectations, coming in at $10.65 per share versus the $10.52 that Wall Street was expecting.

Sales for the full year hit $50.2 billion, up 32% from $37.9 billion last year.

Looking Ahead

To be sure, Google faces some long-term challenges as the world moves to mobile devices, where it’s more difficult to make money selling ads than on the desktop, where Google built its business.

Nevertheless Google CEO Larry Page said in a statement that, “In today’s multi-screen world we face tremendous opportunities. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be at Google.”

Some observers had become concerned that Google might fall short. A few days ago Google’s treasurer warned on the Google investor relations blog that some analysts were not correctly taking into account the sale of Motorola’s Home division. Some took the post as an indication of weakness in Google’s business.

A Lot To Like

But Google has much to feel good about these days. Its Android operating system now holds 75% share in smartphones, versus 15% for Apple. Android is also catching up in tablets.

Google appears to be surviving the legal assault that Apple launched against Android back in 2010. And it recently managed to sidestep an investigation brought by the Federal Trade Commission by settling without making any huge concessions.

As Page pointed out in comments during the analyst call, Google’s apps like Maps, Gmail and others have become among the most popular on Apple’s platform. The new version of Maps, he said, was downloaded 10 million times in its first 48 hours on the Apple App Store.

In the past year Google has put a new emphasis on design, and “we’ve made real progress making more beautiful and intuitive products,” Page said.

Image courtesy of Reuters.

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