As search engine king Google, Inc. announced 1st quarter earnings results after the bell Thursday and market bloggers grabbed our calculators to check whether the company topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate on earnings and revenue, Google subsequently sprung unexpected news of a 2-for-1 stock split of GOOG shares.
Diluted earnings per share reached $8.75 for GOOG's Q1 results (excluding traffic acquisition costs, or TAC), on $8,140 million in revenues. Thus, it amounts to a mixed report: the Zacks Consensus Estimates were expecting $8.24 per share (ex-TAC) on $8,150 million, so while Google managed to post a 6.2% positive earnings surprise, it was a tick below expectations on the top-line.
But the 2-for-1 stock split is what has sent shares higher in the after market, even following a 2.37% gain in regular Thursday trading. The new shares will be non-voting capital stock and will halve the rich $650+ price tag for future buyers. Some 20 minutes after Google made the announcement, shares have gained an extra 1%.
Much will need to be explained in the conference call, such as the status of Google's plans to acquire Motorola Mobility (MMI - Free Report) , on which regulators had signed off back in February, but a deal has yet to be made. Is Google serious about keeping this company and its still relatively large staff, or is it merely trying to find a way to hang onto the rights to Motorola's many patents?
Also, though Google continues to grow, its average cost per click is down for the second quarter in a row: -12% year over year and -6% sequentially. However, Google reported better-than-expected 39% volume growth for the quarter.
Analysts had been upwardly revising earnings expectations over the past month, but this is after heavy downward revisions earlier in the quarter. Today's $8.75 per share actual was still a penny below what analysts were expecting 90 days ago.
Ultimately, how the stock split pays out for investors -- as opposed to, say, how issuing a dividend yield has worked out for Apple (AAPL - Free Report) shares -- is what will drive Google headlines through Friday and perhaps beyond.