Google's market value briefly surpassed $100 billion for the first time yesterday, its stock scaling new heights after an earnings and revenue...
SAN FRANCISCO — Google’s market value briefly surpassed $100 billion for the first time yesterday, its stock scaling new heights after an earnings and revenue spike that astonished investors.
The online search leader’s shares soared $36.70 to close at $339.90.
That left Google’s market value at $98 billion after just seven years in business, nearly $20 billion above 66-year-old Hewlett-Packard.
Google’s shares have nearly quadrupled since their initial public offering at $85 just over 14 months ago — a stretch that has been marked by stunning financial growth and a steady stream of new products that seems to spit out profits as efficiently as it does answers.
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The innovation, combined with media-consumption habits that are shifting more advertising to the Web, paid off in a big way during the third quarter.
Google’s profit, announced after the market closed Thursday, increased by more than sevenfold to $381.2 million. Excluding advertising commissions, revenue more than doubled to $1.05 billion.
After crunching the numbers, some of the most optimistic analysts became even more enthusiastic about Google’s prospects.
ThinkEquity Partners analyst John Tinker and Hoefer & Arnett analyst Martin Pyykkonen both raised their targets for Google shares to $425, up from $350, while Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney predicted the shares would hit $430 within the next year.
“There is definitely a bit of a ‘wow factor’ here,” Pyykkonen said. “The [company’s] earnings are looking better than you could have imagined in your wildest dreams.”
Google probably will make even more money during the next two quarters, Mahaney said. That’s because advertisers typically spend more during the holidays.
Mahaney and other analysts also expect Google’s stock to be added to the Standard & Poor’s 500, a move that would provide another lift to its stock as portfolios tied to that blue-chip index snap up more shares.
In another bullish sign, Google executives Thursday said more Fortune 500 companies are lining up to join an online advertising network that so far has been dominated by mostly small and medium-sized businesses.
The company “appears to be tapping into new growth opportunities that may be just as significant as the ones that it already has tapped into,” Mahaney said.
Although it may seem like everything that Google touches turns to gold, the company still faces significant risks.
“The higher their stock price goes, the more likely that others are going to spend more money to get a piece of the action,” Mahaney said.
Microsoft and Yahoo! already have been investing heavily in search, hoping to narrow its lead and, more recently, veteran media mogul Barry Diller entered the space when his InterActiveCorp bought Ask Jeeves for $2.3 billion.
Despite the tougher competition, Google remains well ahead of its rivals, according to comScore Media Metrix and Nielsen/NetRatings.
Although it keeps introducing new products, Google’s profits remained tied to advertising — a field susceptible to volatile swings of fortune.
“In terms of prudence, you would like to see other revenue streams,” Pyykkonen said.
Finally, Google is expanding so quickly that it’s bound to test the management skills of its multibillionaire brain trust — co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, along with CEO Eric Schmidt.
The company has been hiring about 10 new employees per day during the past six months, a spree that’s expected to continue for several years.
Yesterday, though, Google’s leadership had little reason to stress.
After the day’s big market gains, Page and Brin, both 32, each held Google stakes worth $12 billion while Schmidt’s holdings were worth $4.7 billion.