Google earnings crib sheet: What to expect

Google will report first quarter earnings later today with a conference call at 4:30 p.m.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Google will report first quarter earnings later today with a conference call at 4:30 p.m. EDT. Here's a look at what to expect and key issues:

Earnings and revenue: Wall Street is expecting first quarter earnings per share of $3.30 on revenue of $2.49 billion, according to Thomson Financial. Most analysts are expecting Google to handily top estimates.

Worries about U.S. search: Yahoo's quarter has cast a pall over Google's domestic results. However, the two companies are rarely correlated.

The Panama effect: Did Yahoo's Panama ad system dent Google at all? Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a research note that Panama did well with large advertisers, but the big companies may have swamped smaller firms. "If large advertisers shifted budgets toward Yahoo because Panama helped them, it seems reasonable to assume these smaller advertisers may have shifted budgets toward Google because Panama hurt them," says Munster.

International growth: Most analysts expect big things from Google's international operations, especially in Europe. The bet seems to be that Google's international business will counter any U.S. weakness.

New initiatives: Expect a heavy dose of talk about new partnerships with Echostar and Clear Channel and the DoubleClick acquisition. Perhaps Google will give some color on how it will target users across all forms of advertising.

Capital spending: The biggest question is whether Google's spending will slow at least a bit. Google spent $1.9 billion on capital spending in 2006 and the investment continues. Nollenberger Capital Partners Todd Greenwald noted that Google's headcount has doubled every year since 2003.

Monetization rates: Expect improvement. Many analysts have noted that Google continually tweaks its algorithm and some have noted that the company's routine changes may produce more than the Panama overhaul. Bottom line: monetization rates are expected to show big gains.  

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