The market is a fickle mistress. Two technology giants posted their quarterly results last night. One thrashed its 2010 earnings. The other... didn't.
Yet, Google, ostensibly the firm that performed better in the final three months of the tough financial year that was 2011, is in the dog-house with the analysts. 'Expectations were very high and they have missed that,' says Trip Chowdhry, analyst at Global Equities Research.
Despite boosting turnover by more than a quarter to hit $10.6bn (£6.8bn) in the three months to December 31, and pulling in net profits of $2.7bn, up 6.4% on the same period in 2010, the firm has failed to attain the dizzy heights required by the market.
Larry Page, Google CEO, disagrees: 'Google had a really strong quarter ending a great year. Full year revenue was up 29%, and our quarterly revenue blew past the $10 billion mark for the first time,' he says. But the market's response will add a sour note to his enthusastic sign off: 'I’m very excited about what we can do in 2012.'
Over in rainy Washington, Microsoft is enjoying a very different reception to its latest figures. It's net profit may have dropped by $10m to $6.624bn (£4.27bn) in the second quarter of last year, but its share price actually saw a 3% boost last night in after hours trading. The reasoning? Credit-crunched consumers aren't buying computers, so the fact that Microsoft has come through with any kind of profit is pretty spectacular. Microsoft revenues even rose slightly - by 5% - to $20.89bn.
Thursday night's trading will be a real blow to Page and his team. But Google has only really lost the gains it made in its share price over the past three months. Gains achieved in anticipation of stonking great profits. After all, turnover is vanity, profit is sanity. And the search giant is learning the hard way that the price for popularity can be dear.