shares were lower in Thursday's premarket session after the company repeated a mild caveat about sequential revenue growth in a corporate filing.
In a discussion of business trends contained in an S-1 registration, Google warned that it is unlikely sequential growth in the fourth quarter will match the 15% it put up in the third. The language looked similar to a warning contained in the company's previously filed 10-Q.
"Although our revenue growth rate increased in the third quarter of 2004 compared to the second quarter of 2004, our revenue growth rate has generally declined, and we expect it will continue to do so as a result of increasing competition and the inevitable decline in growth rates as our revenues increase to higher levels," Google said.
"Consequently, we believe that our revenue growth rate from the second quarter to the third quarter of 2004 may not be sustainable into the fourth quarter of this year and in future periods," it said.
Factors contributing to more muted growth could be Google's plan to remove ads from its search pages that generate low click-through rates. It said "the main focus of our advertising programs is to provide relevant and useful advertising to our users, reflecting our commitment to constantly improve their overall Web experience."
The company also repeated that its operating margin will decline in 2004 over 2003 because of the $201 million charge it took in the third quarter to settle a dispute with
. Before the charge, operating margin should rise because of reduced stock-based compensation.
On Oct. 21, Google reported third-quarter earnings of $52 million, or 19 cents a share, on revenue of $806 million. The revenue line was up 15% from the second quarter, reflecting "strong traffic and monetization growth in the quarter as well as advertisers' growing recognition of the Internet as an effective advertising medium.
The stock was recently down $5.63, or 3.2%, to $166.87 on Instinet.