Google (GOOG) Beats Earnings Forecasts

Search engine giant Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) beat first-quarter earnings estimates, sending the tech stock up 1% in after-hours trading.

Operating income was $10.08 per share, outpacing analysts’ estimates of $9.64 a share. Revenue jumped 24% from the same quarter a year ago, while paid clicks rose 39%. Also, 170 million people have now upgraded to the company’s new Google + platform.

The company also announced a 2-for-1 stock split, meaning it will slash its extremely expensive share prices –currently higher than Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) shares at $660 a pop – in half. The company did not, however, follow in Apple’s footsteps by announcing a cash dividend, as some had speculated.

“We had a very strong quarter,” CEO Larry Page said during today’s after-hours earnings announcement.

Products such as the Android smartphone, Google Chrome and the popular website YouTube were big contributors to Google’s better-than-expected quarter. Costs per click fell 12% for the quarter, but that was offset by a 39% increase in click volume.

“The most important thing to understand today is that our business is healthy,” Vice President and CFO Patrick Pichette insisted.

The numbers seem to support Pichette’s claim. With 900 million unique monthly visitors in March, Google attracts five times more users than both Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) and Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) “Bing” search engine.

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