Google shares crashed today after its quarterly earnings were prematurely released. The report revealed that profit declined 20% as total costs jumped and advertising prices continued to slide.
The search giant’s stocks crashed by as much as 9pc before trading was suspended and more than $22bn (£13.7bn) was wiped off the value of the company after the inadvertently-published figures revealed the big fall in profits.
The unexpected release, via a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, triggered a selloff in Google shares.
The filing provided Google's financials for the quarter, but, said the Wall Street Journal, was obviously released prematurely, as it included near the top "PENDING LARRY QUOTE" a reference to Google CEO Larry Page.
When the Larry Page quote was later inserted ,it read, “We had a strong quarter. Revenue was up 45 percent year-on-year, and, at just fourteen years old, we cleared our first $14 billion revenue quarter. I am also really excited about the progress we’re making creating a beautifully simple, intuitive Google experience across all devices.”
In a statement, Google blamed R.R. Donnelley , the company that prints its financial documents, for the early release . It said it planned to hold its conference call with investors at 4:30 p.m Eastern US time.
"Earlier this morning R.R. Donnelley, the financial printer, informed us that they had filed our draft 8-K earnings statement without authorization," the Google statement read.
"We have ceased trading on Nasdaq while we work to finalize the document. Once it's finalized we will release our earnings, resume trading on Nasdaq and hold our earnings call as normal."
In a statement, R.R. Donnelly said it was "fully engaged in an investigation to determine how this event took place and are pursuing our first obligation—which is to serve our valued customer."
An SEC spokesman declined to comment.
The average cost that advertisers paid Google per click fell 15% in the third quarter from a year earlier. Paid clicks - how frequently consumers click on Google's advertisements - increased 33% from a year earlier and were up 6% from the second quarter.
The WSJ said Google generally pulls in less revenue from the advertising it places on mobile devices than it does from traditional personal computers. "That's helped create a downward trend for advertiser prices on Google, which has caused some concern."
The recently acquired Motorola hardware business brought in $2.58 billion in revenue, with $1.78 billion from the mobile segment and $797 million from the home segment. Its operating loss was $527 million.
Google's third-quarter profit was $2.18 billion, or $6.53 a share, down from $2.73 billion, or $8.33 a share, a year earlier. Profit fell to $9.03 from $9.72 a share. Revenue improved to $11.33 billion. Total costs jumped 71%.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected earnings of $10.65 a share and net revenue of $11.86 billion.