Google's early earnings miss sparks Twitter conspiracy theories.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- After Google (:GOOG) says publisher R.R. Donnelley (:RRD) accidently released the search giant's worse than expected earnings hours before results were scheduled to be unveiled to the public, Twitter is alight with conspiracy theories.
Notably, some are taking the unexpected release of Google's earnings during the day's trading -- and the halting the company's shares after a near 10% stock drop -- as evidence of both uncertainty over tech sector earnings and proof that Federal Reserve policies are pushing stocks to levels that diverge with actual earnings prospects.
"Google plunge confirms that markets have not priced in Risk," wrote Chris Canham, a fund manager at Baystone Capital, on Twitter moments after the unexpected release. "The result of CB's/Leaders trying to manipulate markets with words/stimulus," added Canham.
According to the release, Google's third-quarter earnings came in at $9.03 per share on $11.33 billion in revenue. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were looking for Google to earn $10.65 a share on $11.9 billion in revenue quarterly revenue, up from $9.72 a share on $7.51 billion in sales in the year-ago quarter.
As Google traded sharply lower and was halted, Bloomberg's Dominic Chu noted that competitors in Google's ad and mobile phone markets like LinkedIn (:LNKD), Apple (:AAPL) and Facebook (:FB) traded down, but bounced off session lows. "Google halted, but $LNKD $FB $AAPL near, but off session lows on heels of $GOOG earnings & sales miss," wrote Chu on Twitter.
According to Bloomberg, Google blames publisher R.R. Donnelley for the early earnings release and says it will continue to hold its earnings call at 4:30 p.m. eastern time.
R.R. Donnelley's shares were off over 2% to $10.62 in afternoon trading on the earnings glitch.
While the company may blame R.R. Donnelley for its premature earnings release, blogger ZeroHedge wrote on Twitter that the company can't blame wider macroeconomic factors for its earnings miss - a refrain heard frequently in many recent earnings misses. "GOOGLE DOES NOT BLAME BUSH, EUROPE OR THE WEATHER (take note S&P 500)," wrote ZeroHedge.
Henry Blodget of Business Insider tweeted out a story that Google was blaming R.R. Donnelley for the company's "earnings release disaster," to which Anupreeta Das of the Wall Street Journal replied, "Can't blame RR Donnelley for the numbers though."
Traders following the arcana of high frequency stock trading and raised questions on what traders could -- and couldn't do -- as Google's shares were halted.
"Rule 201 short sale circuit breaker did activate once down 10%. no shorting on bid," wrote Joe Saluzzi of Themis Trading. Saluzzi's Themis counterpart Sal Arnuk also highlighted that high frequency trading market makers could short Google's shares off of the Nasdaq (:NDAQ) exchange without having to find buyers.
According to Arnuk, after the company's 10% stock dive, the Securities and Exchange Commission's short sale rules kicked in, blocking most traders from selling Google's shares. However, Arnuk contends high frequency trading market makers are exempt from such prohibitions.
"Would $GOOG have tanked -10% so fast if HFT market makers were required to get a locate for stock before they short, like all other participants?," wrote Arnuk on Twitter.
Eric Scott Hunsader of high frequency trading data provider Nanex LLC noted an unusual put option trade against Google's shares - a bet on a decline in the company's stock - just an hour before earnings were erroneously released. "How rare was that $GOOG put option buy an hour before the drop? Only one of its kind in months," wrote Hunsader.
As is often the case on Twitter when a fiasco hits newswires, new parody Twitter handles emerged to poke fun at the situation. A handle titled Pending Larry was created shortly after the earnings release, to poke fun at Google's situation and in particular, a part of the release that said ""PENDING LARRY QUOTE" - referring to Google chief executive Larry Page.
" First thing I said after SEC filing went out: "Oh, Schmidt!"," wrote Pending Larry, referring to former CEO Eric Schmidt. "I mean...it's 4:30pm somewhere in the world, right?," added Pending Larry. "Thought that Groupon deal for SEC document filing was too good to be true. You really do get what you pay for," another Tweet.
Shares of Google are currently halted, down 9.03% to $687.30. Shares of R.R. Donnelly are down sharply, off 3.41% to $10.48.
TheStreet will be live-blogging Google's earnings call, starting at 3.45 PM ET:
Interested in more on Google? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.
--Written by Antoine Gara and Chris Ciaccia in New York