Google (GOOG) stock falls after earnings come out early

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Google accidentally announced its third-quarter earnings about four hours early, and it wasn't good news.

An early version of the report was mistakenly filed to the Securities and Exchange Commission hours ahead of its expected release after the end of the trading day on Thursday. The SEC filing included placeholder language like "PENDING LARRY QUOTE." (Within minutes, a satiric Twitter feed popped up for @PendingLarry, who quipped: "To be fair, we released our earnings yesterday afternoon on Google Plus.")

Google cast the blame at financial printer RR Donnelley, which it said filed the draft documents to the SEC "without authorization."

"We have ceased trading on Nasdaq while we work to finalize the document," Google said in a prepared statement. "Once it's finalized we will release our earnings, resume trading on Nasdaq and hold our earnings call as normal at 1:30 PM PT."

According to the SEC filing, Google's third-quarter results missed analysts' estimates on both sales and profit.

In their forecasts, Wall Street analysts exclude the advertising revenue that Google shares with partners, a figure known as traffic acquisition costs. Without those sales, the company reported revenue of $11.3 billion, which missed the $11.8 billion median forecast from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Earnings per share came in at $9.03, sharply missing the $10.65 that analysts expected.

Among the banner bad news: The amount that Google's advertising partners pay per click continued to drop dramatically, falling 15% over the year.

Google shares slumped 9% on the news before trading was halted.

The news was also bad for employees at Motorola, the mobile company Google acquired in May. Google said in August that it would cut Motorola's staff by 4,000. Those cuts are already taking effect: The total number of Google employees fell by about 1,000 over the quarter, to around 53,500 full-time staffers.

Motorola generated sales of nearly $2.6 billion during the quarter, but posted an operating loss of $527 million. That loss includes severance and restructuring expenses.

A post-earnings conference call is scheduled after the close of trading on Thursday. Investors are waiting to see whether Larry Page, the Google co-founder who took the CEO role 18 months ago, will appear on the call. Before this week, Page had not participated in a public event since problems with his vocal cords surfaced several months ago. Google announced in June that Page had "lost his voice" and would skip the company's developer conference, its quarterly earnings call and other events.

Page did speak at Google's Zeitgeist conference with its business partners on Tuesday. Fortune said his voice was hoarse, but he seemed healthy. He did not answer a reporter's question about his health, replying simply that he was "here and talking."
 
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