Analysts raise Google price targets after strong results

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January 23, 2013 11:21 PM EST

Google Inc's stronger-than-expected results triggered a rush of stock price target upgrades on Wednesday, with several analysts saying the company was well placed to generate higher revenue from mobile advertisements in the longer term.

Shares of the world's largest internet search company were set to open 5 percent higher on the Nasdaq.

At least seven brokerages raised their price targets on Google Inc's stock, which has risen about 15 percent in the last six months to close at $702.87 on Tuesday when the company reported its fourth-quarter results.

"As the business continues to shift toward mobile and advertisers think holistically about clicks rather than about which devices they're coming from ... the Street will as well, and that bodes well for Google," J.P. Morgan Securities analyst Doug Anmuth said in a note to clients.

Average cost-per-click, a metric that measures the price advertisers pay Google, declined 6 percent in the quarter from a year earlier, but this was an improvement over the third quarter's 15 percent slide.

J.P. Morgan, Raymond James, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, RBC Capital Markets and Piper Jaffray raised their price targets on the stock by an average of about $47.

J.P. Morgan was the most bullish, raising its target by $58 to $860.

Google shares touched a high of $759.43 in October, but have retreated since on worries about slow advertising growth and losses at its Motorola business.

Excluding traffic-acquisition costs, Google's core internet business generated net revenue of $9.83 billion, up from $8.13 billion a year earlier. That surpassed a $9.6 billion average forecast from six analysts polled by Reuters.

(Reporting by Neha Alawadhi in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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