Google plummeted almost $80 per share, more than 10%, and trading in the stock was halted two and a half hours today after a disappointing earnings report was published ahead of schedule and surprised investors. Bleak figures in the report about online advertising dragged down Facebook stock, too, and the Nasdaq composite index skidded 1% on a day when the broader stock market was mostly flat. Google blamed a printing company, RR Donnelley & Sons, for filing its quarterly statement with the SEC more than three hours ahead of schedule.
The Google report said it earned $2.18 billion from July through September, down from $2.73 billion a year ago. Profit came to $6.53 per share, and would have been $9.03 if not for one-time accounting costs and restructuring charges. Still, analysts were expecting $10.63 per share. Besides disappointing investors, the report was an embarrassment for Google. Near the top of the draft, the report said, "PENDING LARRY QUOTE," apparently a place to insert a quote from co-founder Larry Page. After trading resumed, the stock finished down $60.49, or 8%, at $695. Meanwhile, Facebook stock declined 90 cents, or 4.6%, at $18.98, with most of the loss coming after Google's earnings report. (Read more Google stories.)