Updated from 11:27 a.m. to include additional information from Pacific Crest analyst.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Google (GOOG) shares jumped 3.94% to $1,180.18 in Friday trading after the Internet search giant posted fourth-quarter results that were better than expected.
Mountain View, Calif.-based Google earned $12.01 a share on a non-GAAP basis, generating $13.55 billion in revenue, excluding traffic acquisition costs (TAC). In a survey from Thomson Reuters, analysts expect the Internet search giant to earn $12.21 a share on $16.753 billion in sales, including TAC. Excluding TAC, revenue estimates were $13.41 billion.
Google noted that cost-per-click, a key advertising metric, fell 11% year-over-year and 2% sequentially, but that paid clicks, which include clicks related to ads served on Google sites and the sites of its Network members, increased approximately 31% over the fourth quarter of 2012, and 13% sequentially.
Google Web Site revenue growth accelerated to 22.1% year over year, showing the third consecutive quarter of higher revenue growth. Perhaps most most important were the paid click numbers, which show that search continues to be an exceptionally strong business, and the moat around it is getting stronger.
These results, coupled with the recent announcement that Google is selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion, but is keeping the patents, have boosted sentiment surrounding the search giant.
Analysts by and large were exceptionally positive on the quarter, with some even raising their price targets above $1,300. Here's what a few analysts had to say:
Credit Suisse analyst Stephen Ju (Outperform, $1,450 PT)
"Once again we call attention to the click volume growth which rose 31% YOY; as we have previously noted, we view this as a leading indicator of where Google's top line growth can eventually head as mobile pricing marches toward where they already are on desktop through its initiatives such as Enhanced Campaigns, App Indexing, and better cross-platform attribution. Moreover, Core Google segment revenue reported a very healthy growth in Play and incremental margins continue to show improvement - the net result of this was a halt in 4Q13 of the segment's margin slide. We maintain our Outperform rating and target price of $1450."
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