Google Inc. (GOOG) Jumps To Become 5th Most Valuable US Company, Closing In On Microsoft

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Google’s market cap has ballooned by more than $60 billion since July 14 to roughly $245 billion. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is just barely behind Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) at $251 billion and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) at $257 billion, according to data provided by the Bespoke Investment Group.

Another 5 percent gain for Google’s stock would make it the third-largest company in the U.S., just behind Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) at $644.59 billion and Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) at $424.25 billion.

While Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is now the most valuable company in the world, and its stock is up about 65 percent year-to-date, it has shed a few percentage points from its all-time high of $705.07 hit on Friday, after the recently released iPhone 5 missed sales expectations.

Meanwhile, counterpart Google set a new 52-week high during Tuesday’s trading session when it reached $764.89 per share. Google is trading at heights it hasn’t hit since November 2007.

Google, which generated $38 billion in revenue last year, has surged roughly 36 percent since mid-June, compared with the Dow Jones Industrial Average's roughly 7 percent gain and a 10 percent rise on the Nasdaq.

Google’s lucrative search advertising business, as well as its efforts to expand into display and mobile advertising, have helped the Internet behemoth maintain robust revenue growth.

Google, owner of the world's largest search engine, dominates the Internet search market with a 67 percent market share, while its Android mobile operating system  dominates the smartphone landscape, owning 68 percent of the global market in the second quarter -- exactly four times the 17 percent share Apple's iPhones held. Google is expected to become the leader in the U.S. for display advertising this year, including banner ads, replacing Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB).

Citi analyst Mark Mahaney boosted his price target for Google to $850 from $740 on Monday, citing signs of growth in search advertising revenue and a particularly promising rise in mobile pay-per-click revenue. Deutsche Bank currently has a price target of $890 for Google.

In its next earnings report, due on Oct. 10, Google is expected to report its fastest sales growth in five years. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters predict sales growth of 59 percent, with earnings of $10.55 per share on sales of $11.95 billion.

Google's surging stock price comes about a year-and-a-half after co-founder Larry Page returned to the chief executive's role, replacing Eric Schmidt, who had the helm of the Internet company for the previous decade.

Page has attempted to pare Google down, sacrificing underperforming projects, bolstering its core businesses and, above all, trying to reorient the entire company behind a comprehensive social strategy.

On the list of the 25 largest U.S. companies, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) has dropped the most, from 17th place to 22nd.

Google, Publishers Settle Seven Year-Long Book Scanning Lawsuit

After seven long years of litigation, Google Inc. and the Association of American Publishers have reached an agreement to settle over the search giant’s book-scanning project.  Reuters

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