Google stock tops $400 a share

Shares in internet search giant Google Inc have hit a new all-time high, topping the $400 mark and marking a gain of nearly $100 a share in four weeks.

    Google is expanding well beyond the search service

    Just over a month since the company reported impressive quarterly financial results, Google has produced a steady stream of news that has fanned excitement about seemingly limitless growth prospects.

    Its stock has, in turn, marched fairly steadily upward.

    Google's shares closed on Thursday at $403.45, up $5.30, or 1.3%.

    Earlier in the day, the stock set a new high of $403.81, lifting Google's market capitalisation to about $119 billion, or 10 times the market cap of General Motors Corp.

    Google is still smaller than some peers by this measure - Microsoft Corp's is at about $293 billion - but it has well outstripped old-line media companies like Time Warner Inc at $82 billion and Disney Co at $52 billion.

    Investor excitement

    Among the new Google initiatives driving investor excitement is Google Base, a service launched on Wednesday that will collect all sorts of information from consumers and businesses and make it easily searchable by the masses.

    Google shares closed at $403.45
    on Thursday - a new high

    Piper Jaffray analyst Safa Rashtchy said in a research note on Thursday that the service could allow the company to "create a new Worldwide Web" and gain "massive advertising inventory".

    He argued Google Base could disrupt an array of web platforms, from web logs to online auctions, by offering a new way to find local content, products and services.

    UBS analyst Benjamin A Schachter said Google Base "has the potential to be among Google's most highly monetisable services", particularly if it adds classified-type listings and a possible payments service.

    Google has displayed over the last month in many other ways its remarkable drive to innovate and find new growth markets.

    Books online

    The company is considering a service for renting books online. It launched new local-search services for cellphones that offer mini satellite maps and walking and driving directions.

    And Google made thousands of public-domain books scanned under its controversial Google Print initiative available to the world.

    On Thursday, the company said it opened operations centres in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Mexico City to support its expansion plans in Latin America.

    And, last week, Google said it is mulling placing its advertisers' ads in print publications like newspapers.



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