Being a darling of investors isn't always easy.

In the wake of relatively strong showings by Internet giants eBay ( EBAY) and Yahoo! ( YHOO), Wall Street is expecting another big quarter out of Google ( GOOG) come Wednesday afternoon, when the company announces fourth-quarter results.

But unlike eBay and Yahoo!, Google enters the spotlight with already high expectations. The search giant, which tore apart earnings and revenue estimates for its third quarter, is judged by a different yardstick.

Along with strong revenue, the company likely will have to provide bullish commentary on its progress in some of its key business initiatives. Earnings, along with the expenses that may have eaten into them, also will be heavily scrutinized.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call are forecasting earnings per share of $2.92 on revenue of $2.19 billion.

But since its last earnings blowout three months ago, shares of Google have performed relatively modestly, rising 7.5% to $494.32.

That's despite a three-month period in which the company not only steadily picked up search market share, but also sidestepped apocalyptic predictions that it had bought a hornet's nest of lawsuits when it acquired video-sharing site YouTube.

In addition, Google upped its ante in the burgeoning mobile market and put its muscle behind a well-received payment service that promises to drive more advertisers into its fold while vanquishing rivals.

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