Why Google's Stock Just Plummeted

By Alexis C. Madrigal

A rare misstep combined with worse-than-expected quarterly numbers to send investors into a panic.

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If you're on Twitter or watching the stock market, it's been a very interesting past half an hour. Google's stock hit the skids, falling to its lowest level in more than a month in the span of just about 10 minutes. What happened?


Well, at 12:30pm, precisely, Google accidentally sent its third-quarter financial numbers to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The press release included in the transmission of the information even had the equivalent of a TK in journalism. In the spot where the company's CEO normally has a statement, the press release read, "PENDING LARRY QUOTE." The unexpected early announcement might have been enough to freak out investors, but on top of it, Google missed both top (revenue) and bottom (profit) line expectations.

What's truly astonishing to me, as a non-investor, is the speed at which the market incorporates the new information. At 12:30pm Eastern, right before the news broke, one Google share cost $754.60. Two minutes later, the price was $736.91. And by 12:34pm, the shares were down to $706.78. That's tens of billions of dollars in market cap erased in the span of a few minutes.

Now, expect to see a lot of stories trying to answer the question financial advisor and blogger Josh Brown posed, "Which meme will catch hold: $GOOG miss means $FB screwed this quarter OR Facebook is kicking Google's ass?"

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/10/why-googles-stock-just-plummeted/263811/