Google -5.7% AH; ad prices stable, but paid click/hardware growth slows

|By:, SA News Editor

After falling 2% Q/Q in Q4 and 8% in Q3 thanks to mobile softness, Google's (GOOG) cost per click (ad prices) was flat Q/Q in Q1. On a Y/Y basis, it fell 9%.

Paid clicks (boosted by mobile and product listing ads) grew 26% Y/Y, a slower clip than Q4's 31% but even with Q3. Traffic acquisition costs fell to 23% of revenue from 24% in Q4 and 25% a year ago.

Google sites revenue (68% of total) +21% Y/Y vs. +22% in Q4. Ad network revenue (22% of total, pressured by policy changes) +4% vs. +3%. Other revenue (10% of total, includes Nexus hardware and search appliances) grew 48%, down from Q4's 99%.

Google spent aggressively: Opex rose to 35% of revenue from 33% in Q4 and 31% a year ago. Capex was $2.35B (15% of revenue), up from $2.26B in Q4. Free cash flow was $2.05B, well below net income of $4.3B. Headcount (exc. Motorola) rose to 46.2K from 43.8K at the end of Q4.

Google had $59.4B in cash at the end of Q4, +$700M Q/Q. Its Q1 tax rate was just 18%.

Q1 results, PR