Google Wows Wall Street

Shares of Google soared to a new all-time high late Thursday after the company’s third-quarter earnings and sales crushed Wall Street estimates.

Google’s pro-forma earnings of $1.51 a share trounced $1.36 estimates, and net revenues (revenues after traffic acquisition costs) doubled from the year-ago quarter to $1.05 billion, well ahead of $943 million estimates. Google ended the quarter with $7.6 billion in cash, a healthy war chest for potential acquisitions.

The results were even more surprising because the company had taken steps to lower expectations during its second-quarter conference call.

“Although this is typically a slower season for Internet properties, we had another exceptional quarter,” Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in a statement. “Our focus on end users and on quality of information and advertising worldwide continues to work extremely well. We are very pleased with how well this is working at scale.”

Google shares soared nearly 9% in after-hours trading to $330, above the previous high of $321.28.

Google’s numbers were a rare bright spot on a difficult day for investors, as stocks plunged on a dismal earnings report from Pfizer and fears of rising inflation and slowing economic growth. There were also reports of liquidation by bankrupt futures firm Refco.

The Nasdaq lost 23 to 2068, the S&P 500 fell 18 to 1177, and the Dow plunged 133 to 10,281. Volume declined to 2.62 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.85 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led 24-8 on the NYSE, and 20-9 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 85% on the NYSE, and 71% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 45-159 on the NYSE, and 59-101 on the Nasdaq.

eBay fell 7% despite better than expected results, as investors focused on earnings guidance that was slightly below forecasts.

Nokia and QLogic fell on mixed results and guidance.

Juniper climbed 3.7% after beating estimates, and Analog Devices climbed 7% after raising guidance. Citrix and Intersil climbed 7% each on their results.

Form Factor soared 17% on its results, and VeriSign , Redback and Satyam climbed on solid results too.

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