Internet company up 69%

SAN FRANCISCO — Google’s first-quarter profit rose 69%, maintaining the online search leader’s penchant for obliterating analyst estimates.

The stellar results released Thursday left little doubt that Google has widened its lead over its closest rival in Internet search and advertising, Yahoo, whose first-quarter earnings eroded.

Google detailed its sparkling performance on the same day that several major U.S. newspaper companies announced another quarter of financial decay, underscoring an advertising shift that is enriching Internet upstarts at the expense of traditional media outlets struggling to adapt to a new order.

Born less thana decade ago, Google now reigns as the most profitable — and probably most powerful — force on the Web.

In the latest demonstration of its clout, Google earned $1 billion during the first three months of the year. That compared with net income of $592.3 million in the same period last year. It was also the second consecutive quarter in which Google earned $1 billion — nearly as much money as the nation’s largest newspaper publisher, Gannett, made all of last year.

Quarterly revenue reached a new company high of $3.66 billion, a 63% increase from $2.25 billion a year earlier.

The company spent $597 million on capital expenditures in the first quarter and hired another 1,564 employees to expand its work force to 12,238 people. It ended the quarter with $11.9 billion in cash.

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