Google on posted big profit and sales gains for the fourth quarter as it continued to see an increase in the number of users clicking its online advertisements.

Net income rose to $1.97 billion, or $6.13 a share in the period ended in December, compared to $382 million, or $1.21 a share in the same period a year earlier. Net revenue rose to $4.95 billion, Google said.

Wall Street analysts were expecting Mountain View, Calif.-based Google to post earnings excluding items of $6.48 a share, and $4.92 billion in net revenue, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Given that the global economy is still in the early days of recovery, this was an extraordinary end to the year, said Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.

As we enter 2010, we remain hugely optimistic about the internet and are continuing to invest heavily in technological innovation for the benefit not only of our users and customers, but also the wider web.