Google executives exude optimism in analyst meeting - East Valley Tribune: Business

Google executives exude optimism in analyst meeting

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Posted: Friday, March 3, 2006 5:28 am | Updated: 4:56 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

SAN FRANCISCO - Google provided stock market analysts with more color about its secretive operations Thursday, painting a bright picture that appeared aimed at defusing growth concerns raised by the search engine leader’s chief financial officer earlier this week.

The meeting gave Google a chance to address recent complaints that it doesn’t share enough information with its shareholders, maintaining a tightlipped approach that has recently contributed to wild price swings in its stock price.

The most recent jolt occurred earlier this week after Google chief financial officer George Reyes warned the company probably can’t do much more to improve upon the advertising formula that has been driving its rapid revenue growth.

Google executives seemed determine to reverse that perception during a 4 1 /2-hour meeting held at its Mountain View, Calif. headquarters.

In his opening remarks, Google CEO Eric Schmidt assured the roomful of analysts that he sees ‘‘tremendous headroom’’ to develop an even more effective advertising approach.

Schmidt underscored his optimism at one point by saying Google someday might generate $100 billion in annual revenue as it expands into a variety of new advertising channels, including television, radio and publishing. The 7-year-old company’s revenue totaled $6.1 billion last year.

‘‘Our assessment is we are in the strongest position that we have ever been,’’ Schmidt said later in the day.

Jonathan Rosenberg, Google’s senior vice president of product management, echoed some of Schmidt’s remarks during his presentation.

After noting that Google had already improved the relevance of its ads, Rosenberg emphasized there are ‘‘still many, many gains to be made there.’’

The upbeat remarks contrasted with Reyes’ cautious commentary during a question-and-answer session at a Tuesday investor conference in New York. At that time, Reyes cited the difficulty that G oogle would have improving its advertising formula and advised the company’s growth rate was bound to slow down — a prospect that set off alarms among investors and caused Google’s stock price to drop precipitously.

Google’s stock rebounded Thursday, apparently lifted by the confident tone of management’s remarks, which were webcast live.

The company’s shares gained $11.65, or 3.2 percent, to close at $376.45 on the Nasdaq stock market, then added another $5.67 in extended trading. Despite the rally, Google’s stock remained about 4 percent below its value before Reyes raised the specter of slower growth.

Without referring to his earlier comments, Reyes accentuated the positive Thursday.

As he showed a chart depicting Google’s 92 percent increase in revenue last year, Reyes said, ‘‘This is a pretty darn impressive set of numbers. We are very proud of what we have accomplished.’’

As they tried to address investor worries, Google’s executives stuck to the company’s prohibition against making financial projections — an edict mandated by company co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Despite those restraints, Google still managed to serve up more insights than a year ago when it held its first major investment meeting as a publicly traded company.

During last year’s session, Google exasperated analysts by devoting a substantial amount of time discussing the quantity of free food it feeds its employees.

This time around, Google fed the analysts with more numbers, although the company continued to skimp on the specifics.

Reyes told analysts that Google’s capital spending this year will be substantially higher than last year’s $838 million investment.

He indicated most of the money will be spent increasing Google’s already formidable computing power so it can deliver more products and servers to Web surfers.

Google also plans to continue a hiring spree that expanded the company’s payroll by an average of 7 new employees per day last year.

Reyes said much of the hiring will be concentrated outside the United States as Google continues to expand internationally.

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