Omid Kordestani, Senior Vice President,
John D Mchugh  /  AFP - Getty Images
Omid Kordestani, a senior VP at Google, speaks at the opening of the GooglePlex, the company's new London office. Google announced Thursday it has opened offices in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Mexico City, as it looks to accelerate growth in Latin America.
msnbc.com news services
updated 11/17/2005 4:32:42 PM ET 2005-11-17T21:32:42

Google Inc.’s stock price continues to forge ahead. Shares in the search engine hit another all-time high Thursday, breaking through the $400 threshold, a move that may once again force Wall Street to rethink its price targets.

Google shares have been romping higher since it posted better-than-expected earnings last month and reported a “sea-change” shift by major companies to online marketing from print and broadcast.

With shares above $400, the stock is up nearly $100 a share, or more than 30 percent, since it reported earnings on Oct. 20 and prompted a number of Wall Street analysts to raise their price targets.

As of Thursday, six analysts had a price target of $400 for the company, according to Reuters Estimates. The highest mark is $450 a share, listed by both RBC Capital Markets and Lehman Brothers.

Shares of Yahoo Inc., Google’s chief rival, also hit fresh five-year highs Thursday, as both companies benefited from optimism about online advertising.

Also on Thursday, Google said it has opened offices in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Mexico City, as it looks to accelerate growth in Latin America.

The offices will be charged with boosting use of Google Web sites and increasing advertising sales in the region for the Mountain View, Calif. -based Internet company.

The Mexico operation is led by Gonzalo Alonso, formerly sales director for the T1MSN Internet service. Google’s operation in Brazil is managed by Alexandre Hohagen, who was previously Brazil general manager for HBO.

Google expands its base
The announcement on its Latin America offices follows the “beta test” launch Wednesday of an ambitious new Google service that lets anyone upload most anything to a publicly searchable database, potentially laying the groundwork for a foray by the Internet juggernaut into classified advertising.

The venture, Google Base, could lead to a vast expansion of its content and signal grander ambitions for the king of online search-related advertising. Google’s stated mission is, after all, nothing less than organizing the world’s information.

Google Base has the potential to make instantly available a vast sea of content including — but not limited to — recipes, job ads, photos, DNA sequences, real estate listings and individual standalone databases.

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Normally, it takes Web “crawlers” days or weeks to scour the Web and feed Google’s main search engine with updated information, but they usually can’t penetrate content buried in databases. This tool will make locating anything that’s been uploaded nearly instantaneous, provided it finds users willing to provide the content.

Submitters will also be able to describe what they uploaded with keywords — making searches and filters easier and more reliable.

“This is all part of our efforts to make it really easy for anyone with information to make it accessible from Google,” said Salar Kamangar, vice president of product management at Google. “We just felt like this piece was just missing before.”

What’s less clear is exactly what Google plans to do with what it amasses. The company said the primary purpose of Google Base’s release is to study and improve how the information is collected and categorized.

Kamangar said the company eventually wants to integrate the results with results from its main search engine, its local search site, which identifies results by geographical location, and its shopping comparison service, Froogle.com.

As it stands, Google Base has no mechanism for transacting business, whether buying a car or applying for a job. But its patrons — a job listings service, say — will be able to provide links in whatever they upload to commercial sites that do.

If Google goes commercial with the new service, which is widely expected, it could pose a formidable threat not only to traditional classified businesses such as newspapers but also online sites like eBay and Craigslist.

Speculation has been further fueled by a patent application for a service called Google Automat that helps would-be sellers generate advertising. The company also is known to be working on an online payment system.

And last month, Web surfers stumbled on an early version of Google Base that invited people to list things like a used car for sale and a party planning service.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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