SAN FRANCISCO — As far as unpleasant surprises go, Google hit Wall Street with a double whammy Thursday.
The Internet search leader that prides itself of organizing the world's information lost control of its own data when a contractor released its third-quarter earnings report more than three hours before the numbers were supposed to come out.
As if that wasn't jarring enough, the results alarmed investors because the company's earnings and revenue fell well below analyst projections. The disappointment triggered an 8 percent drop in Google's stock price that erased about $20 billion in shareholder wealth.
"This is a monumental failure of epic proportions," said Michael Robinson, an executive vice president for the Levick Strategic Communications, which specializes in financial crisis management. "This was bad news compounded by bad process. It came out in the worst way possible."
Google Inc. blamed printer R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co. for filing the company's quarterly statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission more than three hours ahead of schedule.