Google breaks the $50bn revenue barrier

Jan 23, 2013

Google yesterday published its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2012 and full year performance. The search giant reported consolidated revenues of $14.4bn for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2012. However, its traffic acquisition costs (advertising revenues are reported gross without deducting this) for the period were $3.1bn, equivalent to 25 per cent of advertising revenue.

In other words, advertising netted the company $12.9bn. The remaining $1.5bn of revenue came from Motorola (which Google acquired in late 2011 for the princely sum of $12.5bn). Mind you, the Motorola business also cost Google $1.3bn – in all, Google reported a $152m quarterly loss from Motorola Mobile.

Of Google’s quarterly $12.9bn of advertising revenues, $8.6bn of this came from Google-owned websites, $3.4bn came from partner websites (so-called ‘network revenue’), whilst the remaining $829m are listed simple as “other”.

Google reported that 54 per cent ($6.9bn) of its total revenue now comes from outside the US, which is up slightly from 53 per cent in Q4 last year. The UK is its largest overseas territory for deriving revenue, with a reported $1.3bn or 10 per cent of the total. Mind you, regular readers will know all about Google’s highly controversial and ethically dubious “double Irish Dutch sandwich” corporate tax mitigation scheme for maximising its profit… Not surprisingly, there was no mention of this in yesterday’s news. However, it did state “our effective tax rate was 18 per cent for the fourth quarter of 2012”.

Drilling down into more specifics, Google gave some details as to the make up of its advertising revenues. Aggregate paid clicks, which include clicks related to ads served on Google sites and the sites of its network members, increased by 24 per cent over the fourth quarter of 2011. Average cost-per-click decreased approximately 6 per cent year-on-year.

Traffic acquisition costs (as previously mentioned) increased by 25 per cent from Q4 2011. Google says the majority of this is related to amounts paid to its network members, as well as to “certain distribution partners and others who direct traffic to our website”. Nice and cryptic.

Net income in Q4 for Google as a whole was $2.9bn, up from the reported $2.7bn in Q4 2011. For the year as a whole, Google reported unaudited total revenues of $50.2bn and net income of $10.7bn – significantly higher than 2011’s full year results of $37.9bn revenue and $9.7bn net income. Google’s CEO Larry Page said that his company ended 2012 with a strong quarter:

“Revenues were up 36 per cent year-on-year, and 8 per cent quarter-on-quarter. And we hit $50bn in revenues for the first time last year – not a bad achievement in just a decade and a half. In today’s multi-screen world we face tremendous opportunities as a technology company focused on user benefit. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be at Google.”

Finally, Google reported free cash of $48.1bn and a total worldwide headcount of 53,861 full-time employees (11,113 of which are currently part of Motorola Mobile). Google also notes that its December agreement with Arris Group to sell the Motorola Home business should net the firm around $2.35bn when it completes later this year.

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