The incomplete results statement revealed a 20% slide in Google’s quarterly profits to US$2.2 billion ($2.14 billion), missing analysts’ estimates and sparking a flurry of trading that wiped nearly $20 billion off the company’s market value before trading was suspended.
Google placed the blame firmly on RR Donnelley in a statement released shortly after the blunder. It said: “Earlier this morning, RR Donnelley, the financial printer, informed us that they had filed our draft 8K earnings statement without authorisation.
“We have ceased trading on Nasdaq while we work to finalise the document. Once it’s finalised we will release our earnings, resume trading on NASDAQ and hold our earnings call as normal at 1.30 PM PT.”
Tom Quinlan, chief executive of RR Donnelley, told the Wall Street Journal that “human error” was responsible for the early SEC filing, which he added was “not common in our world”.
One page of the financial press release still had space for a board level quote from Google chief executive Larry Page, which instead read: “PENDING LARRY QUOTE”.
RR Donnelley, which files more than 100,000 documents each year, said in a statement that it would be investigating the situation.
Google shares dropped 8% to US$695 on release of the financials that showed earnings of US$9.03 per share, some way below analysts’ estimates of US$10.65. Page was forced to defend the results on a conference call, calling the three months a “strong quarter” in which revenues increased 51% to US$11.3 billion.
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