SAN FRANCISCO - Google (GOOG) Inc.'s third-quarter profit nearly doubled in the latest demonstration of the Internet search leader's phenomenal financial firepower.
The Mountain View-based company said Thursday that it earned $733.4 million, or $2.36 per share, for the three months ended in September. That compared with net income of $381.2 million, or $1.32 per share, at the same time last year.
If not for expenses to cover employee stock compensation, Google said it would have earned $2.62 per share — well above the average estimate of $2.42 per share among analysts polled by Thomson Financial.
Revenue for the period totaled $2.69 billion, a 70 percent increase from $1.58 billion last year.
After subtracting the commissions paid to Google's ad partners, revenue fell to $1.86 billion. That figure also topped analyst estimates by about $50 million.
Surpassing Wall Street's lofty expectations is nothing new for Google, which has blown past analysts' projections in all but one of the nine quarters since its much-ballyhooed initial public offering of stock in August 2004.
The remarkable run has established Google has one of the world's corporate titans just eight years after co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started the business in a Silicon Valley garage — part of a house that the company just bought as a memorial to its success.
"Our third quarter results are a testament to the strength of our network of advertisers and partners, as well as our continuing focus on users," Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said.
Google shares gained $6.75 to close at $426.06 on the Nasdaq Stock Market before the release of the third-quarter results, then added another $13.85, or 3.3 percent, in after hours trading.
Google's third-quarter performance reflects the company's widening advantage over its main Internet rivals. Yahoo Inc. (YHOO), which runs the Internet's second largest advertising network behind Google, has been hurt by slowing revenue growth most of this year — a problem that contributed to a 38 percent drop in its third-quarter profit.
"The difference between Google and the second and third place players has become enormous," said Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry.
Google's search engine has become a moneymaking machine as it continues to attract more users, enabling the company to deliver more of the short text-based ads that account for most of its profits.
In September, Google's held a 45 percent share of the U.S. search market, up from 44 percent in August, according to comScore Media Metrix. Yahoo's search share dipped to 28 percent in September, down from 29 percent the previous month while Microsoft Corp.'s share continued to hover around 12 percent, Media Metrix said.
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Package delivery company United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) said Thursday that its quarterly net profit rose above market expectations, citing strong global demand for packages.
UPS shares rose 2.9 percent to $74.50 in preopening trading.
The Atlanta-based company reported third-quarter net income of $1.03 billion or 96 cents a share, compared with $953 million or 86 cents a share a year earlier.
Wall Street analysts on average had expected earnings per share of 90 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.
The world's largest package delivery company reported revenue for the quarter of $11.66 billion, up 10.5 percent from $10.55 billion a year earlier. Analysts had forecast revenue for the quarter of $11.59 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.
In a statement, the company said that it still expects full-year diluted per share earnings growth of around 11 percent and predicted a solid fourth quarter.
"The small package business should be strong on the fourth quarter as we expect international deliveries and the U.S. holiday shipping period to be solid," Chief Financial Officer Scott Davis said in the statement.
UPS is often seen as a bellwether of U.S. economic activity, along with main rival FedEx Corp. (FDX).
CHICAGO (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp. (MCD) Thursday reported higher third-quarter profit, meeting a better-than-expected forecast that the world's largest fast-food company gave last week.
Net income was $843.3 million, or 68 cents per share, compared with $735.4 million, or 58 cents per share, a year ago.
Last week, McDonald's forecast earnings of 68 cents a share, including a penny per share for impairment and other charges. At the time, Wall Street analysts, on average, had been expecting earnings of 63 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.
During the quarter, McDonald's benefited from strong sales of a new snack-sized chicken wrap in the United States and improved demand in Germany, France and Great Britain.
McDonald's shares closed at $41.47 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange, close to an all-time high of $42.46 reached after last week's better-than-expected earnings forecast. The stock has gained 23 percent so far this year, compared with a 12 percent rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co. (KO), the world's largest soft-drink maker, Thursday said quarterly net profit rose a better-than-expected 14 percent, helped by its strongest sales of carbonated beverages since 2000.
Net profit for the third quarter ended Sept. 29 was $1.46 billion, or 62 cents per share, compared with $1.28 billion, or 54 cents per share, a year earlier.
Analysts, on average, were expecting 59 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.
The company said the latest quarter's results included asset impairment and restructuring charges, offset by a benefit for the reversal of a tax valuation allowance.
Coke said net operating revenue rose 7 percent to $6.45 billion while total unit case volume, a key metric in the beverage industry, rose 5 percent.
Volume increases in emerging markets including Brazil, China and Russia partially offset declines in Japan, North America and the Philippines.
Carbonated beverages, including Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite, posted a 5 percent rise in overall unit case volumes, while noncarbonated beverages, such as Dasani bottled water, PowerAde sports drink and Minute Maid orange juice, also rose 5 percent.
In recent years, both Coke and rival PepsiCo Inc. have been trying to expand their portfolios of noncarbonated drinks as consumers shift from sugary sodas to healthier beverages, such as flavored water.
Last week, PepsiCo (PEP), the world's No. 2 soft drink company, reported better-than-expected earnings and raised its full-year outlook, but said profits were squeezed by higher costs for oranges used to make orange juice, and its shares fell.
Coke shares are up 9 percent this year and trade at 19 times earnings estimates for the current year, performing roughly in line with the S&P 500 Index and outperforming a 7 percent rise in Pepsi shares..
Pepsi shares have a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 20.8.
NEW YORK - (AP) - Pfizer Inc. (PFE) said Thursday its third-quarter profit soared 112 percent compared with the year ago period which was hurt by an acquisition charge.
The world's largest drugmaker also pledged to initiate further cost cutting measures next year beyond the previously announced program designed to cut $4 billion in expenses by 2008.
Pfizer said it earned $3.4 billion or 46 cents a share, compared with $1.6 billion or 22 cents a year earlier. In the third quarter of 2005, Pfizer took a $1.4 billion acquisition charge.
Revenue rose 9 percent to $12.2 billion, beating the expectation of analysts who predicted $11.4 billion.
Lipitor revenue rose 15 percent to $3.3 billion, despite moves from health plans to switch patients to a cheap generic version of Zocor, another cholesterol-lowering agent.
NEW YORK, (Reuters) - Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV), the leading U.S. budget carrier, said third-quarter earnings fell as security concerns led to softer demand.
In the third quarter, net profit fell to $48 million, or 6 cents a share, from $210 million, or 26 cents a share in the same period last year.
Excluding special items, the Dallas-based company posted earnings of 19 cents a share. The average expectation from analysts polled by Reuters Estimates was 21 cents a share.
Operating revenue rose 17.7 percent to $2.34 billion from $1.99 billion on increased capacity and higher ticket prices.
Southwest is under pressure to maintain its low fares as its fuel hedges gradually expire. Rivals have also cut costs to compete more effectively with the budget carrier.
Over the last six months, Southwest's shares have underperformed the sector, falling 6 percent, while the Amex airline index was up 3 percent.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp. (BAC), the No. 2 U.S. bank, on Thursday said third-quarter profit rose 41 percent, helped by consumer lending growth and a surge in credit card fees.
Net income for the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company rose to $5.42 billion, or $1.18 per share, from $3.84 billion, or 95 cents, a year earlier.
Excluding merger costs, profit totaled $5.59 billion, or $1.22 per share.
Analysts polled by Reuters Estimates on average forecast profit of $1.16 per share.
Quarterly results reflected Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis' $34.2 billion acquisition of MBNA Corp. on Jan. 1, which made Bank of America the largest U.S. credit card issuer. Card services revenue increased 137 percent to $5.33 billion.
The bank said revenue on a taxable equivalent basis rose 32 percent to $18.96 billion, while noninterest expense rose 22 percent to $8.86 billion. Noninterest expense rose 22 percent to $8.86 billion. Analysts expected revenue of $17.97 billion.
"Bank of America turned in another solid performance," Lewis said in a statement. "Margins continue to be under pressure due to the continuing flat yield curve and intense competition."
Bank of America shares closed Wednesday at $53.81 on the New York Stock Exchange. Through Wednesday, the shares have risen 17 percent this year, compared with a 10 percent increase in the Philadelphia KBW Bank Index.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wyeth (WYE) Thursday said third-quarter earnings rose 33 percent on higher sales of prescription drugs, including its Prevnar vaccine against childhood infections and Enbrel arthritis treatment.
Wyeth earned $1.16 billion, or 85 cents per share, up from $870 million, or 64 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, earnings were 84 cents per share. 4 cents better than the average forecast of analysts polled by Reuters Estimates.
Revenue rose 9 percent to $5.14 billion. Analysts expected $5.03 billion.
Prevnar sales rose 30 percent to $510 million.
Enbrel sales outside the United States and Canada, where Wyeth has exclusive rights, were $378 million, a 37 percent increase.
Sales of its Effexor antidepressant rose 7 percent to $924 million.
Indianapolis-based Lilly, which announced Tuesday that it would pay $2.1 billion for Icos Corp. to gain full control of impotence treatment Cialis, reported net profit increased to $874 million, or 80 cents per share, from $794 million, or 73 cents per share, a year ago.
Analysts, on average, expected 79 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.
The company still expects full-year adjusted earnings of $3.10 to $3.20 per share, excluding items such as any charges from the Icos acquisition.
Lilly still expects sales growth for the full year at the low end of its prior forecast of 7 percent to 9 percent.
Sales for the third quarter rose 7 percent to $3.86 billion, led by a 91 percent surge in Cymbalta, which had sales of $348.6 million, demonstrating that the strength seen in the previous quarter had been sustained as earlier safety concerns about liver problems appear to have abated.
In the second quarter, Cymbalta sales jumped 92 percent to $310 million, helped by Lilly's ramped-up promotion of the drug in the United States and data showing its promise as a treatment for anxiety.
Lilly's biggest product, the schizophrenia drug Zyprexa, which has suffered declining sales in recent quarters, saw global sales rise 5 percent to $1.06 billion, helped by price increases in the U.S.
Worldwide sales of Cialis, which will all go to Lilly once the Icos deal closes, rose 26 percent to $245.6 million.
Sales of its diabetes drugs rose 9 percent to $712.4 million. Lilly's newest diabetes treatment Byetta had sales of $126.4 million. The company shares Byetta revenue with Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Lilly shares are up about 2.8 percent this year, lagging well behind the broader American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index , which is up about 12 percent in 2006.