Google profit and revenue up in Q1

The company's CEO calls the quarter "good" considering the global economic challenges

Google grew its profit and revenue in the first quarter, ended March 31, despite a tough economic environment that is affecting online advertising spending, the company's main revenue engine.

Google reported revenue of US$5.51 billion in 2009's first quarter, up 6 percent compared to the $5.2 billion in revenue it generated in the first quarter of 2008, the company said Thursday.

Subtracting commissions and fees Google pays to advertising and distribution partners, revenue came in at $4.07 billion, slightly missing the consensus forecast of $4.08 billion from analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

Google had net income of $1.42 billion, or $4.49 per share, compared with net income of $1.31 billion, or $4.12 per share, in 2008's first quarter.

On a pro-forma basis, which excludes certain one-time items, net income was $1.64 billion, or $5.16 per share, beating the analysts' expectation of $4.93 per share, and exceeding pro-forma net income of 2008's first quarter, which was $1.54 billion, or $4.84 per share.

In a statement, Google CEO Eric Schmidt described the quarterly financial performance as "good" considering the global economic crisis, and attributed the rise in revenue to growth in search queries.

"These results underline both the resilience of our business model and the ongoing potential of the Web as users and advertisers shift online," he said.

Google also announced that Omid Kordestani, senior vice president of global sales and business development and the architect of Google's extremely successful business model, is leaving his post to become senior adviser for the Office of the CEO and Founders. Nikesh Arora, president of international operations, will replace Kordestani.

The number of clicks on ads served on Google sites and its partner sites increased 17 percent compared with 2008's first quarter.

Google ended the quarter with 20,164 full-time employees, slightly down from the 20,222 employed as of Dec. 31, 2008.

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