Google 1Q Profit Surges 69 Percent

Google Inc.'s (GOOG) first-quarter profit rose 69 percent, maintaining the online search leader's penchant for blowing past analyst estimates.

The Mountain View-based company said Thursday that it earned $1 billion, or $3.18 cents per share, during the first three months of the year. That compared with net income of $592.3 million, or $1.95 per share, at the same time last year.

If not for expenses incurred for employee stock compensation, Google said it would have earned $3.68 per share. That figure topped the average estimate of $3.30 per share among analyst surveyed by Thomson Financial.

Quarterly revenue reached a new company high of $3.66 billion, a 63 percent increase from $2.25 billion last year.

After subtracting advertising commissions, Google's revenue totaled $2.53 billion. That amount was about $40 million above analyst estimates.

Pleasant earnings surprises have become routine as Google has established itself as the most profitable — and perhaps most powerful — business on the Internet. Google has now beat analysts' estimates in all but one of 11 quarters since its ballyhooed initial public offering in August 2004.

The scintillating performance has helped elevate Google's market value to nearly $150 billion, despite a 6 percent decline in the stock price since the company's last earnings report.

As usual, Google's financial firepower flowed from its ubiquitous search engine, which has become the hub of the Internet's largest advertising network. Google delivered 225.9 billion advertising links during the first quarter, an 85 percent increase from 122.3 billion at the same time last year, according to data compiled by online research firm Nielsen/NetRatings Inc.

Although Google has been trying to develop other revenue channels beyond the Internet, online advertising continues to produce virtually all of its profits. Google is expected to become an even more dominant force with last year's $1.76 billion acquisition of online video leader YouTube Inc. and its recently announced $3.1 billion deal to buy Internet ad distributor DoubleClick Inc.

Google shares rose almost 5 percent in after-hours trading after closing at $471.65, down $4.36 in regular trading on the Nasdaq stock market Thursday.