Google Inc's stock price sailed past US$600 for the first time on Monday, extending a month-long rally propelled by the lofty expectations surrounding the Internet search leader's upcoming third-quarter earnings report.
The Mountain View, California-based company's shares traded as high as US$610.26 before slipping back to US$609.62, a gain of US$15.57, or 2.6 percent.
It marked the sixth time in the past 12 trading sessions that the stock has reached a new peak, indicating investors are confident Google's third-quarter profit will be impressive. The results are scheduled to be released Oct. 18.
The latest milestone served as yet another reminder of the immense wealth created since Google went public in August 2004.
The shares have increased more than sevenfold from their initial public offering price of US$85, bringing the nine-year-old company's market value to US$190 billion -- eclipsing bigger, more mature businesses such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Coca-Cola Co, Hewlett-Packard Co and IBM Corp.
It took 10 months for Google's stock to leap from US$500 to US$600 and more than a year for the trip from US$400 to US$500. The shares hurdled US$300 in June 2005 after passing the US$100 and US$200 thresholds in 2004.
Analysts began predicting Google's stock would reach US$600 at the start of last year when the shares were still hovering around US$420. Some analysts already are predicting Google's stock will hit US$700 within the next year, but the average target price for the stock is US$614.64 among analysts polled by Thomson Financial.
The biggest beneficiaries of the stock's ascension have been Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who began developing their search engine, then called ``BackRub,'' in a Stanford University dorm room in 1996. Page and Brin, both 34, now rank among the world's wealthiest people, with fortunes approaching US$20 billion apiece.
Google chief executive, Eric Schmidt and top sales executive Omid Kordestani also have accumulated enough stock in the company to become multibillionaires.
Hundreds of other Google employees are millionaires.
Google's stock has reigned as one of the hottest commodities on Wall Street because its search engine has turned into a moneymaking machine as advertisers spend more on the Internet to connect with consumers who are increasingly shunning TV, radio and traditional print media. Google's search engine is the hub of the Web's most lucrative ad network.
Meanwhile, Google will begin showing YouTube videos on thousands of other Web sites, hoping to profit from ads attached to the clips.
The expansion, scheduled to be announced yesterday, represents the Internet search leader's farthest-reaching attempt yet to cash in on its US$1.76 billion acquisition of YouTube since the deal closed 11 months ago. Google already shows some video ads on clips on YouTube's own site.
The ads accompanying the outbound YouTube clips won't be in a video format. Instead, they will appear as a graphic straddling the video or as a link along the bottom.
Google began showing ad-supported YouTube videos on a handful of Web sites earlier this year. Now, it's reaching out to its entire ``AdSense'' network -- an array of large and small Web publishers.
But Google will not be pulling clips from YouTube's entire library. The material sent to other Web sites will be confined to video from providers who sign consent forms.
If the broader distribution of video pays off, it could encourage Google to distribute other types of content, including news stories and audio files, across its vast network of advertising partners.
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