Google stock reached new levels Thursday amid optimism about a surge in online advertising during the holidays.

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Google stock broke through the $400 price level for the first time Thursday amid optimism about a surge in online advertising during the holiday season and continuing projections for rapid, long-term growth.


The search engine that went public at $85-a-share in August 2004 has continually exceeded Wall Street forecasts for profits. At the new level above $400, Google’s lofty stock-market value of $117.7 billion makes the Silicon Valley firm worth tens of billions of dollars more than the combined value of Internet titans Amazon.com and Yahoo!.


And Google has rocketed more than $100 since Oct. 14, just 24 trading days ago. Thursday it gained $5.30 to close at $403.45.


Caught flat-footed, various Wall Street analysts announced new price targets for Google stock as high as $450 a share. The company’s ability to generate billions of dollars in cash, in addition to rapid search results, is an underlying factor that explains the extraordinary rise in its stock price.


Thus far, Google has not encountered any major business or financial setbacks since going public. Company officials have warned that a slowdown is inevitable as the search engine grows larger.


And Wall Street analysts have warned that Google shares could drop precipitously if the company’s momentum slows.


As Google stock has skyrocketed, co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Chief Executive Eric Schmidt and hundreds of other Google employees have sold billions of dollars of the company’s stock.


The sales by Brin, Page and Schmidt alone have put hundreds of millions of dollars of cash into their pockets, as the rise in Google’s stock price has vaulted the trio into the ranks of the wealthiest Americans.