Peter Kafka

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Larry Page Grabs the Wheel for Google's Q1 Earnings

Larry Page kicked off his reign as Google CEO last week by reshuffling his management ranks.

This week’s news event: His first formal solo sit-down with Wall Street, during Google’s Q1 earnings call this afternoon.

Page won’t be expected to carry the full weight of the call: His predecessor Eric Schmidt usually handed over much of the event to his lieutenants, and there’s no reason to think Page will handle things differently. (Though one of the calls’ primary participants, product boss Jonathan Rosenberg, announced his retirement on Page’s first day.)

In fact, Schmidt was AWOL entirely for Google’s last few earnings calls, a move that Google said was supposed to allow analysts to focus their full attention on the company’s performance. (And in retrospect, that decision seems a little more freighted. But whatever.)

In any case, analysts and the Twittering classes will still be very interested to see how Page handles himself during the call. They’ll also be interested in any directional hints Page makes about Google’s plans. Like, for instance: What’s up with social, which Page doesn’t seem to enjoy himself but insists is crucial for the company’s future?

And, of course, Wall Street will want to hear about numbers, which in the end will matter much more than Page’s personal style. Analysts are expecting revenues of $6.32 billion and earnings of $8.13 per share, which really means they’ll be disappointed if Google doesn’t turn in results that are better than that.

It’s telling that Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney’s note previewing today’s call has zero mention of Page or his management changes. Here’s Mahaney’s ever-helpful “cheat sheet” so you can get a detailed sense of what Wall Street wants; I’ll be back this afternoon to cover all of this live.

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