Google shares headed skyward this week in a moment reminiscent of the dot-com boom, making it the most highly valued media company in the world, ahead of Time Warner.
Just ten months after its initial public offering, Google shares climbed to the point where its value beat that of Time Warner. This is a case of really new media beating semi-new media: The current incarnation of Time Warner was born five years ago when AOL purchased Time Warner for approximately $110bn (£60bn). That combination, pitched as a synergistic merging of old and new media, turned sour as ultimately aspects of AOL's business ended up dragging down Time Warner profitability.
Google's moment came on Tuesday, when the company's share price jumped $2.18 (£1.19) to close at $293.12 (£160.59), and during the day came within a dollar of $300 (£165). That made Google's Tuesday market capitalisation (share price times number of outstanding shares) about $80bn (£44bn), against Time Warner's $78.1bn (£42.8bn). That's an echo of the dot-com boom when "positioning" and "potential" in the internet market counted for more than old-fashioned sales: Google 2004 sales were just $3.2bn (£1.8bn) against Time Warner's $42bn (£23bn).
Google faces tough competition from rivals including Microsoft and a variety of online search and information companies. However, only one out of 29 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial is recommending selling Google stock, while 24 are recommending either a buy or a "strong buy."