Google sees a sharp rise in first-quarter earnings

Google logo Google has seen a rise in the number of people looking at paid-for adverts

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Internet giant Google has reported a sharp rise in first-quarter earnings, the first figures with co-founder Larry Page back at the helm as boss.

The world's leading search engine reported $6.54bn (£4bn) in net revenue in the first quarter, up 29% from $5.06bn the same time a year ago.

Google has about a 65% share of the US search engine market and about 90% in Europe.

The firm said it would continue "to invest for the long term".

Announcing the results, Patrick Pichette, Google chief finance officer, said: "These results demonstrate the value of search and search ads to our users and customers, as well as the extraordinary potential of areas like display and mobile."

UK revenues shrink

During the quarter, paid clicks - which measures the number of times people click on Google ads that are sponsored by the advertisers - rose by 18%.

Meanwhile, average cost-per-click for its search advertisements increased by about 8% on the same quarter 12 months earlier, and decreased about 1% from the fourth quarter of 2010.

However, on some measures Google came in below analysts' expectations.

Revenues from the UK were $969m, representing 11% of income in the first quarter of 2011, against 13% in the first quarter of 2010.

The firm has been engaged on a staff hiring spree, looking to employ more than 6,000 workers this year, but that has been driving up its costs.

"Clearly the company is still in growth mode and for Google that means spending too," said Jordan Rohan, analyst at financial services firm Stifel Nicolaus.

He said Google was spending on sales and marketing, and "they've hired 1,900 more people this quarter, which might be a new high".

In trading of its shares after the New York Stock Market closed, Google stock fell by 4% to $553.09.

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