Google Returns to Form

Shares of Google jumped in after hours trading Thursday after the search giant handily beat Wall Street estimates.

Google’s earnings of $2.29 a share beat $1.98 estimates, and revenues after traffic acquisition costs grew 92% to $1.53 billion, surpassing $1.44 billion forecasts.

Google’s shares jumped 6% on the news. The results — and Wall Street’s response — were a far cry from the company’s surprising earnings miss in late January.

On the company’s conference call, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the company still doesn’t plan to issue formal guidance, but will strive for “greater transparency.” He said the company expects its usual second and third quarter seasonality, with slower traffic and revenue growth from Memorial Day to mid-August.

“Google had an exceptional quarter with strong growth and profitability, from both Google properties and the network,” Schmidt said in a statement. “We are driving this growth through investments in our infrastructure and our people, product innovations that attract new users, and relationships with advertisers and partners around the world. The strength of our business model gives us the opportunity to invest in our business, allowing us to maintain and grow our market leadership.”

The company said its expense will continue to climb, noting in its earnings release, “We expect that the growth rate in capital expenditures in 2006 will be substantially greater than the revenue growth rate for the year. We expect the majority of investment to be focused on IT infrastructure including servers, networking equipment, and data centers, as well as real estate and campus facilities.”

Blue chips rose Thursday on relief over GM’s results, while tech shares traded lower on mixed results from some big names.

Apple and Nokia gained on their results, while Intel , eBay , Juniper , Novellus and Rambus fell on their reports.

The Nasdaq slipped 8 to 2362, the S&P 500 added 1 to 1311, and the Dow gained 64 to a new six-year closing high of 11,342. Volume rose to 2.51 billion shares on the NYSE, but declined to 2.18 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led 17-15 on the NYSE, and 16-13 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 56% on the NYSE, and 39% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 264-106 on the NYSE, and 259-38 on the Nasdaq.

Avici soared 84% after doubling sales.

Portal Player plunged 42% on news that the company’s chips won’t be used in some of Apple’s new iPods.

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