MOUNTAIN VIEW -- Google's stock soared in late trading Thursday after the company issued a strong third-quarter earnings report that showed higher profits despite falling ad prices.
Investors didn't even seem fazed by CEO Larry Page's announcement that he may skip some future earnings conference calls, leaving them in the hands of trusted lieutenants. That would be unusual for most companies, where the CEO generally presides over earnings calls with analysts and reporters.
Google's share price jumped more than 8 percent in overnight trading, hitting record levels above $960, after the Internet giant reported profit rose 36 percent from a year ago, to $2.97 billion for the quarter ending Sept. 30.
Total sales rose by 12 percent to $14.89 billion, while net revenue was $11.92 billion after subtracting commissions paid to ad partners. Earnings amounted to $8.75 a share or $10.74 a share excluding one-time charges. That surpassed the expectations of analysts, who predicted earnings of $10.34 a share, minus one-time charges, on revenue of $11.7 billion excluding commissions.
Page, who has struggled with voice problems relating to damaged vocal cords, sounded more hoarse than he has in previous months. But he said only that he believes people "are counting on me to ruthlessly prioritize my time for the benefit of our business."
Google's results came as the company is pushing into new market segments in the face of new challenges from online rivals such as Facebook.
In recent months, Google has expanded its online store for music and other digital media, while introducing new hardware products including the Chromecast device for streaming online video to TVs and new smartphones from its Motorola division.
But Google still makes the bulk of its money from online advertising, as the leading seller of search and display ads for the Web. Research firm eMarketer projects Google will collect nearly a third of the $117.6 billion spent on digital ads worldwide this year.
Despite its strong financial performance, Google's report shows the search giant is still wrestling with a steady decline in one key indicator, known as cost per click, which reflects how much advertisers are willing to pay when a consumer clicks on their ads.
Google reported that the average cost per click fell 8 percent from a year ago, for the eighth consecutive quarterly decline.
In the past, Wall Street analysts have worried this trend could indicate a long-term problem for Google.
Despite the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, analysts say advertisers have been reluctant to pay the same price for ads on those devices as they have paid for ads on desktop and laptop screens.
But Google reported another indicator was more positive: The number of times consumers clicked on Google ads increased 26 percent, which is good news for the company because advertisers pay Google when a consumer clicks on an ad.