Google hits $100 billion milestone in stock value

Shares have nearly quadrupled since their initial public offering just over 14 months ago.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google Inc.'s market value briefly surpassed $100 billion for the first time Friday, its stock scaling new heights after an earnings and revenue spike that astonished investors.

The online search leader's shares traded as high as $346.43 on the Nasdaq Stock Market before backtracking as the day progressed. The shares had gained $36.16, or 11.9 percent, as their price eased to $339.36 in late afternoon trading.

After the slight retreat, Google's market value stood at $98 billion after just seven years in business.

Google's shares have nearly quadrupled since their initial public offering at $85 just over 14 months ago -- a stretch that has been marked by stunning financial growth and a steady stream of new products designed to lure even more traffic to a search engine that seems to spit out profits as efficiently as it does answers.

The innovation, combined with media consumption habits that are shifting more advertising to the Web, paid off in a big way during the third quarter.

Google's profit, announced after the market closed Thursday, increased by more than sevenfold to $381.2 million. Excluding advertising commissions, revenue more than doubled to $1.05 billion.

ThinkEquity Partners analyst John Tinker and Hoefer & Arnett analyst Martin Pyykkonen both raised their targets for Google shares to $425, up from $350, while Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney predicted the shares would hit $430 within the next year.

"There is definitely a bit of a 'wow factor' here," Pyykkonen said. The company's earnings "are looking better than you could have imagined in your wildest dreams."

Google is outperforming the Internet's other major advertising network, Yahoo Inc., whose market value during Friday's trading stood at $53 billion.