Google tops $800 for record high as search business soars

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 1.2% to $802.56 at 12:16 p.m. in New York, and earlier touched $804 for the highest intraday price since the company went public in August 2004. Through Feb. 15, the stock had gained 31% in the past year, compared with a 12% 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% of the search market in the U.S. in January, while rivals Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corp. had less than 30% 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, Colorado. “Google has got this knight-in-shining-armor that nobody can kind of penetrate.”

As Google has advanced, Apple Inc. has declined 8.4% over the past year. Apple, the world’s most valuable technology company, is trading at a 56% 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.

Digital Ads

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

Bloomberg News

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