Google stock set for all-time high as revenue soars

Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:40am EDT

Oct 18 (Reuters) - Google Inc shares were set to open at an all-time high near $1,000 after the search engine giant reported a surge in mobile and video advertising that helped drive quarterly revenue up 23 percent.

At least 10 brokerages raised their price targets on the stock to between $880 and $1,175, with Jefferies bumping up its target price the most at 15 percent.

Google said paid clicks increased 26 percent in the three months ended Sept. 30, from a year earlier, the highest rate of growth in the past year.

This offset an 8 percent fall in average cost-per-click, the price advertisers pay Google when consumers click on their ads.

"We view solid paid clicks growth to be a good indicator of demand, driven by the continued shift to mobile," J.P. Morgan analysts said. They had expected 21.5 percent growth.

In contrast, analysts say Yahoo, which this week reported a tepid quarter, has lost market share in display and search advertising in the face of strong competition from Facebook Inc and Google.

Facebook is expected to report its third-quarter results on Oct. 30.

To counter declines in cost-per-click rates, Google rolled out in February a service to help advertisers market through a mix of smartphones, tablets and desktops.

The J.P. Morgan analysts said this drive was a major opportunity for Google in the upcoming holiday season.

Analysts also highlighted Google's ability to generate revenue from its video-streaming website, YouTube.

YouTube branded video-ads grew more than 75 percent in the quarter, from a year earlier, with 40 percent of traffic now coming from mobile devices.

"We estimate that Google's key YouTube asset generated approximately $4 billion in revenue in 2012, positioning Google extremely well for the strong growth in video advertising," RBC Capital Markets analysts wrote in a note.

Analysts at Jefferies said Google is best positioned to benefit in mobile with one billion Android activations.

Google, which is also known for its Google Maps service and Chrome browser, reported a 32 percent jump in international revenue during the quarter.

"[Rest Of World revenue] is an encouraging bright spot. Google should be a good play off any European and Emerging Markets recovery," analysts at RBC Capital markets said.

Google shares were trading up 9 percent at $970 before the bell on Friday. (Reporting by Soham Chatterjee; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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