Two words were strangely absent from Google’s Q1 earnings call on Thursday: European Commission.
That’s the European Union’s regulatory agency that made shockwaves last week when it announced that it was filing charges against Google for abusing its Internet search monopoly in online shopping results.
The EC’s so-called statement of objections is no minor matter. The Commission has the ability to fine Google up to 10% of its annual revenue, which translates to about $US6 billion (although that’s a worst case scenario that would amount to an unprecedented fine by the agency).
Yet analysts steered clear of the topic during the call, peppering Google execs with queries about pretty much anything except the antitrust elephant in the room.
True, regulatory matters like this are often shrugged off by Wall Street. Google’s stock is trading roughly where it was when news of the European charges broke last week. Given that the investigation has been dragging on for five years, the risk could already be priced in to Google’s stock. When chipmaker Intel was slapped with its own statement of objections by the EC back in 2007, its stock was also unaffected.
Still, it’s striking that during the call no analysts thought it worthwhile to ask Google executives about the situation.