Web search leader Google Inc. (GOOG) said on Wednesday its quarterly profit rose as its ability to capitalize on Web advertising gained momentum against rivals such as Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).

Net income for the fourth quarter grew to $1.03 billion, or $3.29 per share, compared with $372.2 million, or $1.22 per share in the year-earlier quarter.

Gross revenue rose 67 percent to $3.21 billion. The figure includes $976 million in traffic acquisition costs (TAC), the financial cut which affiliated Web sites receive for featuring Google advertising.

Analysts on average had been looking for a net profit of $2.64 per share, according to Reuters Estimates. Excluding stock-based compensation and other items, the consensus forecast was for a profit of $2.91 per share.

Wall Street analysts had also projected revenue of $3.14 billion, representing a year-over-year-growth rate of 64 percent. Forecasts ranged from $2.99 billion to $3.27 billion.

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