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Investors Go Ga-Ga For Google


Company in enviable position as advertisers continue to drift from TV, print.


You remember the mass media: Companies assembled huge, diverse audiences and charged advertisers fat fees to reach people they didn't need or want.

Mass advertising worked well until this Internet thing came along, allowing advertisers to better target their campaigns and reach a higher percentage of people who might be interested in buying their products or services - and bypass the others. The mass slaughter at the mass media is played out in declining revenue, plunging profits and layoffs. Newspapers? Who needs 'em?

Certainly not those invested in Google (GOOG), king of online searchers with a roughly 63% market share - double that of Yahoo (YHOO) and Microsoft (MSFT) combined.

Advertisers are increasingly shifting to Internet and away from TV and print media. Google is perfectly positioned to benefit from this shift, a fact underscored by the company's 26% increase in third-quarter earnings.

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The company's net income increased to $1.35 billion, or $4.24 a share, from $1.07 billion, or $3.38 a share, for the same period a year ago. Setting aside stock-based compensation and other costs, profit was $4.92 a share, topping analysts' consensus estimate of $4.75.

Excluding revenue sent to partner sites, Google's sales grew to $4.04 billion and total revenue was $5.54 billion, up about 30%.

But Google's stock has taken a hit this year -- and the price is down about 50% -- which may suggest an opportunity ahead.

Google's third quarter played out against the credit crunch and an increasingly downbeat economy, making it easier for the company to beat Wall Street's reduced estimates. While Google isn't immune to general economic trends, it's well positioned to do advance now - especially as major companies move more ads online.

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