Quarterly profit at Google fell for the first time, although the performance was better than analysts anticipated. Google made $382 million, or $1.21 per share, in the three months ending in December—a 68% drop from the same period in 2007. The results indicated the company was able to rein in its free-spending ways enough to offset a slowdown in the online ad market that generates most of its revenue.
The news contrasted with a missed forecast and 5,000 layoffs announced earlier in the day by rival Microsoft. If not for employee stock compensation costs and a charge to account for deteriorating investments, Google said it would have made $5.10 per share. That beat the average estimate of $4.95 per share among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.