Google Inc inadvertently released its draft quarterly results hours ahead of schedule, significantly missing expectations on both revenue and earnings and wiping 9 percent off the market value of the Internet search and advertising leader.
Google said its financial printers, RR Donnelley, filed its draft results statement without authorization. The company said it was working now to finalize the statement.
The company, which recently overtook Microsoft Corp to become the second-largest U.S. technology company by capitalization, had been due to release its results after the market close.
The second paragraph of the press release merely read "Pending Larry quote," suggesting that space was reserved for comment from CEO Larry Page.
Google, which has been struggling to turn around a loss-making cell phone maker Motorola Mobility that it bought for $12.5 billion, reported a 20 percent dive in net income to $2.18 billion. Excluding certain items, it earned $9.03 a share, vastly underperforming the $10.65 analysts had expected, on average.
"We have been saying this thing was ripe for a pullback. It's not like they're Google not being Google, but you still have some major issues," said BCG analyst Colin Gillis.
"Click prices declined for the fourth consecutive quarter after rising for eight consecutive quarters before then. That's a negative. This is the mobile problem.
"The other bit is the Motorola millstone had been ignored by the market, and - boom - now you've got weak revenue from Motorola. When you acquire a business and you're about to whack all kinds of people and close offices, you know what happens to the employees? They take their eye off the ball. Sales are down."
Google reported net revenue - excluding traffic acquisition costs - of $11.3 billion for the third quarter, below Wall Street's expectations for about $11.9 billion.
The surprise announcement, which had been expected after the market close, pushed its shares down 9 percent to $687.30 before trading was halted by Nasdaq.
(Reporting by Edwin Chan in San Francisco; Editing by Bernard Orr)