Search giant's profits up 31% in first quarter

Google’s still got it.

The search giant’s profit jumped almost a third in the first quarter despite Wall Street concerns about the faltering economy’s impact on its paid click business. Netco said it earned $1.31 billion during the first quarter vs. $1 billion a year earlier. Revenue shot up 42% to $5.19 billion for the quarter.

Google’s strong showing outpaced Wall Street expectations, which had faded in recent months.

Indeed, Google’s top exec painted a rosy outlook for the year, no matter what happens in the overall economy.

“It’s clear to us that we’re well positioned for 2008 and beyond, regardless of the business environment that we find ourselves surrounded by,” chairman and chief exec Eric Schmidt told Wall Street analysts in a Thursday afternoon conference call.

Google issued its earnings report after the stock market closed, and the company’s stock promptly shot up in after-hours trading, passing the $500 mark for the first time since February. It had been trading at $449.54 when the market closed.

The Netco also reported that international revenue now brings in more than half of its total coin, accounting for $2.65 billion, or 51%, compared to 47% in the year-earlier period.

The company said that aggregate paid clicks rose some 20% over a year ago and around 4% above the fourth quarter 2007.

Google completed the acquisition of DoubleClick during the quarter, and the company said it laid off around 10% of DoubleClick staffers earlier this month.

Rival Netco Yahoo has been exploring a deal under which it would outsource to Google its search advertising as a way to fend off Microsoft’s takeover bid. Yahoo has also been exploring a merger with Time Warner’s struggling AOL unit.

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