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Shorts catch a slightly better play off Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) earnings report as the Internet giant posts its Q2 results in tonight's after-hours. GOOG has recorded an earnings-driven after-hours decline in 12 of the last 27 quarters we've tracked, and in seven of those quarters, or 58% of the time, the stock has headed deeper in the red in the following day's regular session.

Even a gain in tonight's after-hours still holds the door open for shorts to watch for potential trade in GOOG, as the stock has a tendency to cut its upside the following day. GOOG has recorded an earnings-driven after-hours gain in 15 of the last 27 quarters we've recorded. It has reversed direction or narrowed its upside eight times in the following day's regular session, or about 53% of the time. The relatively mixed play off gains is really a jump ball for traders tonight so shorts should be watching for where any hard ceilings develop while longs should be keeping an eye on any developing floor supports.

GOOG is expected to report a Q2 profit of $7.85 per share on revenue of $6.55 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

Here's the historical performance data:

On April 14, GOOG slumped 5.3% in evening trade after beating Q1 revenue expectations but missing on earnings. The stock was punched deeper south the following day, closing the April 15 regular session down 8.2%.

On Jan. 20, GOOG gained 1.9% in after-hours action after blowing past Q4 results and announcing a management change. The stock lost its upside momentum the following day, closing the Jan. 21 regular session down 2.1%.

On Oct. 14, 2010, GOOG jumped 8.9% in evening trade after topping Q3 expectations. The stock surged higher the following day, closing the Oct. 15 regular session up 11.1%.

On July 15, 2010, GOOG declined 4.2% in after-hours action after posting mixed Q2 results, including an earnings miss. The stock added to its downside the next day, closing the July 16 regular session off 6.9%.

On April 15, 2010, GOOG slumped 4.7% in after-hours action despite beating Q1 expectations. The stock headed deeper south the following day, closing the April 16 regular session down 7.6%.

On Jan. 21, 2010, GOOG declined 4.2% in after-hours trade despite beating Q4 estimates. The stock headed deeper in the red the following day, closing the Jan. 22 regular session down 5.6%.

On Oct. 15, 2009, GOOG advanced 2.8% in after-hours trade after beating Q3 expectations. The stock moved higher the next day, ending the Oct. 16 regular session up 3.7%.

On July 16, 2009, GOOG declined 3.3% in after-hours trade after just topping Q2 revenue expectations and beating on earnings. It cut the downside the following day, ending the July 17 regular session down 2.8%.

On April 16, 2009, GOOG declined 0.3% in evening trade after topping earnings expectations. The stock shifted gears the next day, closing the April 17 regular session up a modest 0.9%.

On Jan. 22, 2009, GOOG firmed 2.1% in after-hours trade after beating Q4 expectations. It added to its upside in the Jan. 23 regular session, rising 5.9% by the closing bell.

On Oct. 16, 2008, the stock jumped 10.4% in evening hours after GOOG beat with Q3 results. The gain was nearly cut in half, to 5.5% the next day.

On July 17, 2008, GOOG slumped 7.5% in after-hours trade after the company missed Wall Street's earnings expectations. The stock added to its downside the next day, losing 9.7% by the close on July 18.

On April 17, 2008, the stock jumped 17% during the evening hours after a Q1 earnings beat. The share gain improved to 20% by the closing bell the next day.

On Jan. 31, 2008, GOOG fell 6.8% after the company reported Q4 results shy of the Street. The stock fell 8.5% the next day.

On Oct. 18, 2007, GOOG grabbed a gain of 0.9% after topping Q3 expectations. The stock thinned its upside slightly the next day, closing the Oct. 19 regular session up 0.8%.

On July 19, 2007, GOOG dropped 7.7% in after hours when the company missed Q2 EPS estimates but beat on sales. Shares cut their losses the next day and ended down 5.2% in the regular session.

On April 19, 2007, GOOG edged up 2.6% in night trade after beating Q1 estimates. Shares trimmed those gains the next day, ending the regular session up 2.3%.

On Jan. 31, 2007, the stock fell 1.1% in the evening hours despite beating expectations with Q4 results. Shares fell 3.9% the next day.

On Oct. 19, 2006, the stock gained 7.4% in the evening session after topping with Q3 results. The gain expanded just marginally with a 7.8% advance recorded at the close of regular trading.

On July 20, 2006, GOOG edged up 0.9% in after hours when the company reported Q2 results topped expectations. The shares gave back some of those gains the next day, ending the regular session up 0.7%.

On April 20, 2006, shares posted a 7.9% evening gain after GOOG blew past the Street's view of Q1. That gain was reined in somewhat the next day, with shares finishing up 5.3%.

On Jan. 31, 2006, GOOG tumbled 12% in after-hours trade after the company reported results up over year ago levels but earnings that were below expectations. The stock narrowed its downside on Feb. 1, ending the regular session off 7.1%.

On October 20, 2005, GOOG jumped 10.6% in night trade after beating Q3 expectations. Shares extended their gains the next day, ending the regular session up 12.1%.

On July 21, 2005, GOOG declined 5.9% in the evening session despite topping Q2 sales estimates with record sales. However, the shares pared losses the next day, ending regular hours trading down 3.6%.

On April 21, 2005 GOOG shares soared 9.5% in after-hours trade after the company blew past Q1 expectations. The upside weakened on April 22, managing a more moderate 5.6% rise by the regular session close.

GOOG jumped 9.7% the night of Feb. 1, 2005 after the Internet search titan blew past Q4 Street expectations. It cut back its gains in the Feb. 2 regular session, ending the day up 7.3%.

GOOG's first earnings report back on the night of Oct. 21, 2004, saw the company beat the Street revenue forecast. The stock jumped 8.1% in after-hours trade, and followed that move with a 15.4% rise by the Oct. 22 closing bell.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Source: Google Leans Toward Favoring Shorts in Post-Earnings After-Hours Trade