Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) hit a record $800 on Tuesday. Yet despite the rally, shares of the search engine giant are still worth buying thanks to the company’s burgeoning digital empire and reasonable valuation.
Great core business
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) continues to dominate the search business. According to a recent report from comScore, Google now accounts for 67% of online queries in the United States. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Bing has been gaining market share with 16.5% of searches, but this come mostly by pushing out Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) and other smaller players. The industry appears to be moving towards a two-player duopoly.
While Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)'s search engine is a cash flow machine, the company's growth rate has been in steady decline.
This left the Street wondering what the company's next growth driver would be.
The Androids are coming!
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) answered this concern with its Android operating system. With over 500 million devices activated, Android represents a huge opportunity for Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) to exploit for additional advertising and application revenue.
The company's strategy to release the platform to hardware manufacturers for free proved to be wildly successful. Five years after its launch, Android is now jockeying with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)'s iOS for top spot in the U.S. smartphone market.
Android has also been remarkably successful internationally. In China, the world's largest smartphone market, Android powers 90% of all devices sold.
The green Android monster is gobbling market share and keeping Apple shareholders up at night. Apple has struggled to compete against Android in China. The iPhone is significantly more expensive and the company has had difficulty securing distribution deals. This market share slide could be reversed if Apple can secure an agreement with China's largest carrier, China Mobile Ltd. (ADR) (NYSE:CHL).
Suite of new products
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has also been successful at a host of other ventures.
Tablets: The company released its Nexus 7 tablet late last year and the launch has been better than expected. Based on estimates from Google's component suppliers, Nexus sales are exceeding one million units per month.
Cloud Computing: Google is building massive data centers where businesses and consumers can store information and run applications. With most applications moving to the cloud, the PC may become little more than a screen with Internet access.
Social Networking: Google+ has emerged as the internet's most underrated success story (yes, I will go on record saying that) with the site cracking 400 million members last year. According to Trendstream, 25% of Google+ members were active in the past month, second only to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB).
These ventures are sexy and all, but what kind of returns has the company delivered for investors?
Google has posted 25% annual top-line growth over the past four years.
But not all of this revenue growth has translated to the bottom-line. Google has been routinely criticized for failing to control costs.
Most of this expense is investment in research and development. Given Google’s innovation track record, I’ll give the company a pass.