MOUNTAINVIEW, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Google's ( GOOG) fourth-quarter charms won't tame the tech-selling beast.

The big Internet search shop is set to report earnings after the bell today and if recent reports by tech giants like Intel ( INTC) and IBM ( IBM) are any gauge, a strong showing will be greeted with a rousing selloff.

Intel is down 2% since its earnings report Thursday, and IBM has fallen 3% after delivering better-than-expected results and a strong outlook Tuesday.

Wary that the winning ways of tech in 2009 won't last, investors have been willing to shed shares of some of the strongest players in their portfolios. This could be a troubling trend if the pattern continues.

After hitting $629 at the start of the year, Google has dropped 6% in three weeks amid a broad market selloff. After the stock posted a 94% gain last year, Google's swoon sets an ominous beginning for 2010.

The stock hasn't been helped by Google's threat to leave China and China's authoritarian grip on the Internet.

Google's aggressive move to sell its own phone -- the Nexus One -- has also raised concerns about heavy hardware costs and margin erosion. The Google phone may have even engendered hard feelings among partners. Apple ( AAPL) has been reportedly exploring a deal that would make Microsoft's ( MSFT) Bing its iPhone search service, a potential snub for Google.

More to the core of Google's business, analysts have been mulling a report by AdGooroo that uncovered a big drop in its search advertisers. In the fourth quarter, Google suspended 5% of its advertisers, says the report.

AdGooroo analyst Rich Stokes called the move a "quality purge" by Google to remove its weak accounts. The drop in advertisers was more than offset by a 12.5% increase in ad spending by top U.S. retailers, Stokes notes.

But a closer look might see the 5% drop in advertisers as a bad thing. Given the economic climate, it's quite possible that Google has a host of bankrupt or defunct ad clients that are starting to drop out of the roster.

Don't expect any clear answers from Google on this.

As the gatekeeper of Internet advertising, Google says it's a priority to generate fewer -- but better targeted -- ads. If successful, Google can deliver the highest-quality ad -- one that a searcher is more apt to click on -- and charge more for the quality. That would certainly fit the "quality purge" scenario.

However, the concern is that sales growth usually takes care of all the problems. So if Google had to pull a whole lot of levers to cull deadbeats, then the fourth quarter numbers may reveal some weak spots.

Analysts are expecting Google to post a profit of $6.50 on $4.92 billion in sales, excluding traffic acquisition costs (or TAC).

"The bar is very high for Google, as they are very good at jumping over it," says one money manager who says he's watching the show from the sidelines with no positions.

But clearing the bar by a mile might not be enough in this arena to avoid a post-earnings selloff.

Reported by Scott Moritz in New York.

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