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Forget Facebook: Google shares on a tear, gaining on Microsoft

September 28, 2012|By Jessica Guynn
  • A journalist's shadow is cast on a screen with the Google logo at a news conference in Seoul.
A journalist's shadow is cast on a screen with the Google logo at a news… (SeongJoon Cho / Bloomberg…)

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt recently made headlines for getting his Gangnam on with Psy in South Korea. But it's his 14-year-old company that's busting some real moves.

While shares of rival Facebook continue to struggle, Google's stock has taken off this quarter, up about 30%. Analysts say investors are shrugging off concerns about a decline in how much advertisers are paying every time users click on their ads, and the impact on margins of the $12.5-billion Motorola Mobility acquisition.

Google is even closing in on longtime nemesis Microsoft. In fact, it's inching closer to supplanting the software behemoth as the third-largest U.S. company by market value.

"Google is no longer the kid brother," BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis said. "They both do search, applications, operating systems. They are more like twins."

Gillis said he remains concerned that Google has the exact same headache that Facebook has: Users are shifting to mobile devices on which online ads are tougher to show and rake in fewer bucks.

He pointed out that Google always has a stronger showing in the second half of the year. And the company still faces stiff competition from Apple on mobile devices, which replaced Google's popular maps app on the latest iPhone with its own, only to be widely panned by consumers.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook apologized to customers about the app on Friday.

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