The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 19, 2013

Google passes $800 on strong mobile computing

— Google Inc., operator of the world's largest Web-search engine, surpassed $800 for the first time as mobile computing bolsters growth.

The shares advanced 1.8 percent to $806.85 in New York, for the highest closing price since the company went public in August 2004. The stock has gained 33 percent in the past year, compared with a 12 percent increase for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

Google is benefiting as more advertisers place promotions on its website, buoyed by the growing number of users who access the service on smartphones and tablets. The company grabbed 67 percent of the search market in the United States in January, while rivals Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. had less than 30 percent combined, according to ComScore Inc.

"This is just such a great business, and they so clearly dominate it," said Martin Pyykkonen, an analyst at Wedge Partners in Greenwood Village, Colo. "Google has got this knight-in-shining-armor that nobody can kind of penetrate."

As Google has advanced, Apple Inc. has declined 8.4 percent over the past year. Apple, the world's most valuable technology company, is trading at a 56 percent discount to Google on a price-to-earnings basis, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That's the widest spread since July 2006, about a year before the iPhone was introduced.

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., had more than 41 percent of all digital ad revenue in the U.S. in 2012, according to EMarketer Inc. In mobile, Google holds a 53 percent share, compared with 8.4 percent for Facebook Inc., owner of the world's largest social network. Google dominates the U.S. search-based advertising market, with a 75 percent share, according to EMarketer's estimates.

Fourth-quarter profit, excluding certain items, rose to $10.65 a share, Google said last month. Analysts on average had estimated profit of $10.50 a share.

Google makes money from search with ads that run next to query results. Earlier this month, the company revamped the ad service to make it easier for marketers to reach users on different devices. It also helps companies manage bids for ads running at different locations and times.

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