Tough times play to Google’s strengths: analysts

SAN FRANCISCO, April 18, 2008 (AFP) – Tough times in the US economy play into Google’s strength as businesses trust the Internet giant to best target their precious advertising dollars, analysts said Friday. While the US economy staggers and the dollar sinks, Google’s profits defied worries and soared to 1.31 billion dollars in the first three months of the year.

The California firm’s stock price rocketed more than 20 percent, nearly 100 dollars per share, in the wake of Thursday’s stellar earnings report.

Investors had fretted that the economic downturn would pour cold water on the online search and advertising titan’s earnings growth.

Analysts credit Google’s unrelenting focus on helping people find what they want on the Internet and then matching search results with online advertising they are likely to click on.

Google makes the bulk of its cash from “pay-per-click” advertising, and the company reported 5.19 billion dollars in revenue during the quarter while the US economy was rife with talk of recession.

“Google’s business model is making sure advertising hits the mark,” Global Crown Capital analyst Martin Pyykkonen told AFP.

“If companies have to cut back, it will be in