Handwringing over Google CEO Page's Wall Street chops overblown (for now)

Maybe Page is the second coming of Steve Jobs, but until then he may want to spend more than 5 minutes on a conference call.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Google CEO Larry Page made a brief appearance on the company's earnings conference call and later watched the search giant's shares get whacked. The problem: Page said little and left his vision statement at home.

In a nutshell, Page said he was optimistic about Google and dropped off the call. Handwringing ensued. Reuters has a recap of the handwringing. Henry Blodget notes that ignoring Wall Street can be a good thing.

After all, this Google lack of regard for Wall Street isn't all that surprising. Google's IPO filing noted that the company was all about the long-term. Simply put, Page wasn't going to answer questions about a big expense spike in the first quarter. Why bother?

You could argue that Page is just pulling a Jeff Bezos, who didn't really sweat making quarters either. The problem: Bezos talked the vision thing. We still don't know Page's vision other than it's business as usual at Google. Page let his executives do the talking---a fine strategy for his second earnings conference call.

His debut should have had a little of that vision thing. What is Page thinking? What's the strategy? How about the big bets? Fill in some of these social networking themes?

Maybe Page is the second coming of Steve Jobs, but until then he may want to spend more than 5 minutes on a conference call. Sure, Google's earnings fell short and expenses were high. Page could have allayed those worries with just a little more time fielding questions.

Morgan Stanley analyst Scott Devitt outlined the consensus view:

Larry Page made a welcome appearance on Google’s CQ1 earnings call, but didn’t stick around for the investor Q&A session which may leave some investors unsatisfied. From a financial discipline standpoint, CFO Patrick Pichette assured investors that nothing would change under Larry Page. But investors would have welcomed the opportunity to hear Page convey his vision of the future of Google and how things might change under his leadership. And despite management’s best efforts to convey that Google will conduct "business as usual", recent decisions by the company to ramp CQ1 operating expenses +59% Y/Y could fuel doubts that many investors may have already had.


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