Google didn't bomb. The Internet giant said Thursday that its first-quarter net profit rose 31 percent on a 42 percent jump in revenue...
SAN FRANCISCO — Google didn’t bomb.
The Internet giant said Thursday that its first-quarter net profit rose 31 percent on a 42 percent jump in revenue, soothing investor worries that the growth of its search advertising business was slowing along with the U.S. economy.
Google shares shot up more than 16 percent to $526 in after-hours extended trading, after falling $5.29 to $449.54 during the regular session.
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It was a welcome recovery for the Silicon Valley giant, whose stock had sagged as investors increasingly worried that it would fail to deliver the knock-your-socks-off financial performance of years past.
Investors also worried about the effect of Microsoft’s effort to buy Yahoo, which could create a more formidable competitor in the online advertising market. But Google’s showing indicates the Internet’s advertising market remains robust.
The financial targets that guide Wall Street’s expectations had fallen during the past two months as Web-surfing data convinced analysts that fewer people have been clicking on Google’s links to advertising amid mounting evidence the U.S. economy had tumbled into a recession. Google makes money from the links only when Web surfers click on them.
At least 10 analysts had lowered their forecast for the first quarter and for the full fiscal year of 2008. And Google’s shares have fallen 35 percent since the beginning of the year, wiping out about $75 billion of its market value.
First-quarter net income rose to $1.31 billion, or $4.12 a share, from $1 billion, or $3.18 a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding the money Google pays to drive traffic to its site, earnings for the first quarter were $4.84 a share.
Net revenue was $3.7 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected Google to report first-quarter revenue of $3.61 billion excluding commission paid to partner Web sites.
Investors pay close attention to Google’s financial results because it is a bellwether for online advertising. Market research company EMarketer had lowered its 2008 forecast for U.S. online spending because of concerns that consumers would buy less on the Web. The research company predicted that U.S. advertisers would spend $25.8 billion on Web ads, down 6.2 percent, but up 23 percent from $21.1 billion in 2007.
When Google reported fourth-quarter earnings Jan. 31, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said the company had not seen any effect from the economic slowdown. But Google executives in recent weeks had said that the effect was unclear.
“Our ongoing innovation in search, ads and apps helped drive healthy growth globally across our product lines, yielding another strong quarter for Google,” Schmidt said in a statement Thursday.
He also said Google’s purchase of online advertising service company DoubleClick would increase its value with advertisers. Google is exercising “operational discipline,” Schmidt said, but added that it continues to explore long-term opportunities.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.