Google’s earnings calls are starting to sound as gleeful as an Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) product roll-out. How is the company doing, according to CFO Patrick Pichette? “Great,” “Healthy,” “Excited,” “Really strong,” “Very pleased,” “Optimistic.” (CEO Eric Schmidt, by the way, will not be on these calls going forward, the company says, describing that change as “streamlining.”) Some highlights from the call below.
— M&A: Google’s shopping spree isn’t over. Pichette says the company has a “strong M&A pipeline” — and talked about the importance of building on its “existing focus areas” and bringing new talent to the company.
— Who’s buying: In search, Pichette said “all major verticals” — including Finance and Travel — did well. He also said there had been “very aggressive growth” at YouTube. “Large advertisers have come back in force,” he says.
— The competition? Executives weren’t very talkative when asked about the state of their relationship with Apple: SVP Jeff Huber’s response to the question: “We have historically had a strong relationship with Apple in many areas and look forward to continuing that in the future.” As for Facebook as a competitor, Huber said, “We don’t see things as a zero sum game whatsoever.”
— AdMob: Google’s AdMob deal is still being reviewed by the FTC because of competitive concerns. Asked if there was a “plan B” if the deal does not go through, VP Susan Wojcicki said the company did already have a “monetization process for monetizing mobile applications.” Pichette emphasized, however, that the company believes “there is overwhelming evidence” that the mobile ad market is both “nascent” and “competitive.”
— Marketing: Several analysts asked about a big jump in the company’s sales and marketing expenses (Sales and marketing expenses were up 40 percent, while research and development expenses were up 27 percent). Executives say the company has been advertising heavily on several fronts, including to promote its Chrome browser in Europe, but say that the company’s advertising for its Nexus One smartphone did not have a “material” impact on marketing expenses.
— News Corp.: Nothing new about the state of Google’s search deal with News Corp (NYSE: NWS). but Pichette did acknowledge that the deal is in negotiations “right now.”
— The Google (NSDQ: GOOG) tablet: No direct response to this question either — although Pichette did remind the analyst that netbooks with Chrome OS would be coming out in the fall. “There is going to be a ton of innovation coming from that,” he said.