Google reports successful Q4

Google reported an 18% increase in fourth quarter earnings over the same period last year.

Google released its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2008 earnings this afternoon during a conference call with investors. The leader in search market share reported revenues of $5.7 billion for the quarter, which ended December 31, compared to $4.83 billion for the same period last year.

“Google performed well in the fourth quarter, despite an increasingly difficult economic environment,” said Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, during the conference call. “Search query growth was strong, revenues were up in most verticals, and we successfully contained costs.”

Google-owned sites generated revenues of $3.81 billion, or 67% of total revenue. This is a 22% increase over the fourth quarter of 2007, when Google-owned sites generated $3.12 billion.

Operating expenses, other than cost of revenue, were $1.65 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008, or 29% of revenue, compared to $1.72 billion or 31% of revenue in the third quarter of 2008.

GAAP net income for the fourth quarter of 2008 was $382 million as compared to $1.29 billion in the third quarter of 2008. Non-GAAP net income was $1.62 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared to $1.56 billion in the third quarter of 2008.

As of December 31, the company reported cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities of $15.85 billion. Google employed 20,222 full-time employees as of December 31 and added 99 employees during the fourth quarter.

Schmidt also commented on Google’s outlook on the worldwide recession.

“It’s unclear how long the global downturn will last, but our focus remains on the long term, and we’ll continue to invest in Google’s core search and ads business as well as in strategic growth areas such as display, mobile, and enterprise,” he said.

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