Google's shares, which closed at USD 1,135 ahead of the results announcement on Thursday, opened about 3 percent higher after at least 12 brokerages raised their price targets on the stock to as much as $1,400.

Broker Canaccord Genuity raised its target price by USD 370 to USD 1,370, noting that Google's website revenue growth accelerated to 22.1 percent in the fourth quarter, the third consecutive quarter of faster growth.

Canaccord and others also said the sale of Google's loss-making Motorola handset unit to China's Lenovo Group Ltd would help it focus on its core Internet business and boost margins.

Citi Investment Research, which raised its target price to USD 1,350 from USD 1,190 and maintained a 'buy' rating, said Google's report demonstrated the company's continued business momentum.

Goldman Sachs noted that the quarter was the second out of the last nine that net ad revenue had beaten the average estimate. Goldman raised its price target to USD 1,200 from USD 1,125.

Google, whose shares were trading at USD 750 this time last year, said it benefited from strong demand from brand marketers and retailers in the quarter.

"In coming quarters, we expect improvement in cost-per-click (CPC) trends as Product Listing Ads and AdWords Enhanced Campaigns lift CPCs," UBS Securities analyst Eric Sheridan, who raised his target by USD 50 to USD 1,350, wrote in a note to clients.

CPC refers to the price advertisers pay Google each time a user clicks on their ad.

In the past year, Google has changed the way advertisers run campaigns on its website, offering the same ads simultaneously on PCs and mobile devices.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney, who raised his price target to USD 1,400 from USD 1,300, said Google had positioned itself well to take advantage of most of the major trends in consumer internet through organic investments and acquisitions.

Google's recent acquisitions include artificial intelligence company DeepMind Technologies and smart thermostat and smoke alarm-maker Nest Labs.

Google also bought a stake in Taiwan displaymaker Himax Technologies, bringing it closer to producing a commercial version of its Google Glass eyewear.

Google shares were up 1.8 percent at USD 1,158 in early trading on the Nasdaq.

(Agencies)

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