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Search engine titan Google Inc. reported earnings after the bell, and while the results may have not been surprising, they are nevertheless fairly astonishing. The company brought in $14.42 billion over the past three months for a headline EPS read of $10.65 per share.

At Zacks, we account for stock-based compensation (as well as a 34-cent restructuring charge in the quarter), so our EPS number comes to $9.02. That's still notably higher than the $8.61 expected by the 12 analysts covering Google shares. Analysts also expected GOOG to bring in $12.42 billion for the quarter, so it beat on the top-line as well.

Each quarter, Google's reporting numbers create headaches for those trying to decipher their meaning. Not that there's anything tricky afoot here, but the nature of Google's different businesses lend the company's earnings reports to be less than obvious and straightforward. Long-time owners of GOOG shares can likely attest to the head-scratching that occurs when CEO Larry Page & Co. put their quarterly numbers out.

Contrary to what some casual observers may think, Google is anything but a lock to beat estimates quarter after quarter. In fact, over the previous 4 quarters, Google averages a negative EPS surprise of 4.91%, and the company missed big (17%) in the September quarter.

Analysts had been extremely dormant ahead of the company's earnings report, with no one adjusting estimates over the past month, and only 1 of 12 upgrading expectations over the past 60 days.

When our full account of Google's earnings are filled in once its earnings are accounted for on the currently ongoing call, we'll break it down here on Zacks.com. Until that time, we note the after-market appears to be pleased with Google's Q4, as shares have risen 4.75% in after-hours trading.

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