Over the last few years, Google has experienced tremendous growth. As a result, investors rewarded the company with a rapidly growing stock price….until recently.

And, as often happens with growth stocks, Google’s stock price grew faster than earnings, with the expectation that management would deliver on investors’ rising expectations…. until recently.

The year over year growth in monthly revenue for the company has been slowing and is a sign that the brand is maturing. Google's current 31 percent rate of growth may still be the envy of many companies, even though it represents a slowdown from previous years. Google grew at 56 percent in 2007 and 73 percent in 2006.

With even slower growth expected, Google is beginning to pull back on expenses.

The “news” that Google is shrinking employee perks is indicative of the maturation process. According to an internal memo, Google is instituting slimmed-down cafeteria hours and food selection as part of an effort "to find areas where efficiency can be improved."

Very often, slowing growth can lead to an erroneous interpretation …. that the brand is in trouble. Not so. Fundamentally, maturing brands like Google cannot grow as quickly as new ones.

Expect to see further “efficiency cuts” as the brand comes down to earth, and as Q4 and Q1 2009 promise to be much weaker, settling the stock price to a mature and more responsible $280.

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