Google hit by disappointing profits

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The Independent Online

The meteoric rise of internet search giant Google was hit today after a disappointing profits performance in the final three months of the year.

Despite seeing profits almost double for the final three months of 2005 to 372 million US dollars (£210 million), the company's earnings per share of 1.54 US dollars was well below the 1.76 US dollars expected by analysts.

Shares fell 12% in after-hours trading in New York last night - Google's biggest one-day drop since its flotation in August 2004 - as it also told investors it had been hit by a slowdown in advertising spending in the UK.

The decline is expected to wipe £9 billion from the value of the stock when official trading begins later today.

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