Maybe $266 was too high

Google CFO George Reyes says he's not "bearish at all" about prospects for the company, but he says growth will slow.

Crashing to EarthYou don't hear a CFO say this too often. George Reyes told a Merrill Lynch conference, according to The Wall Street Journal:

"At the end of the day, growth will slow. Will it be precipitous? I doubt it. I'm not turning bearish at all. I think we've got a lot of growth a head of us. It's a question of what rate." 

Let's parse that statement: Growth will slow at some rate that could, but probably won't be, precipitous.

What happened to "Google doesn't provide guidance"? Perhaps I was too conservative calling a $266-a-share price for Google by year-end.

UPDATE: Henry Blodgett adds more, pointing out that this should have been accompanied by a press release to fulfill Regulation FD (full disclosure) requirements. Key quote: "And if he really did say it, Google is going to win a prize for screwing the small investor.  If he didn't say it, meanwhile, then CNBC is going to win a prize for screwing the small investor (and every big investor not fortunate enough to have his or her butt in a chair at the investment conference).  And even if he didn't say it, enough damage has been done that Google should issue a clarifying press release."

Regardless of what was said, it should have been prefaced by an announcement, since the statement clearly had material impact on the price of shares, which have plunged from yesterday's close of 390.38 to as low as 338.51. Shares are off 5.8 percent at this writing.

Google should remember that all those Wall Street disclosure rules it eschews were put in place to help small investors, who've received a thorough reaming from the company today.