Regardless of whether you're a bull or a bear on Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), there's no denying that overall, the search giant has had a very good year. It's continued to make rivals like Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), so covetous of its success in search, look bad as it has shored up its prowess in its specialty (and made mad money in advertising sales, to boot).

In what could be viewed as an anomaly for Google, investors freaked out when it reported its fourth quarter of last year. Google missed analysts' expectations, which is a bit silly given the fact that Google has never made any bones about the fact that it doesn't issue guidance. At any rate, though, it's not like the numbers weren't impressive despite the miss: Fourth-quarter sales increased 86% to $1.92 billion, and net income increased 82% to $372.2 million. Cash increased 277%, and free cash flow increased 146%.

Google's first-quarter revenues increased 79% to $2.25 billion, with net income up 60% at $592 million, or $1.95 per share. Google's strong international growth was a highlight, representing 42% of revenues.

In the second quarter, Google kept up the impressive quarterly performance, with net income more than doubling to $721 million, or $2.33 per share, and revenues up 77% to $2.46 billion. And at that point, it became clear that Google intends to keep on spending in order to keep up its very heady growth, with the company stating that its capital expenditures would increase during the year as it invests in servers, networking equipment, data centers, real estate, and campus facilities.

That brings us to Google's recent third-quarter report. The search-engine giant nailed it again, producing the usual 70% revenue growth and growing its profit by 92% to $733 million, or $2.36 per share.

So far, Google sure has proven the naysayers wrong in terms of its financial results and continued stock appreciation, but I know many people wonder when the growth will slow to more earthly levels. It's not like Google doesn't have plenty of competition, as well as a few risks, like click fraud, privacy concerns, and how to proceed in markets like China.

Let's see what the CAPS community has to say about Google.


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Data current as of Dec. 15, 2006.

What a stock -- a whopping 3,000 players have rated it in CAPS, with about two-thirds of them believing Google will outperform. Of course, let's not discount the fact that there are a significant number of bears.

There may be a lot of positive sentiment for Google in CAPS, but this pitch from SFLogic encompasses some of the risks: "Advertising dependent model; natural search has become commoditized and gaming is mostly targeted towards GOOG's algorithms; click-fraud is not going away; disorganized organization with abundance of arrogance; secret sauce of serving up paid links will be duplicated by YHOO and others soon; consumers will eventually figure-out that paid links are actually ads and not results."

Compare to that to this extremely bullish pitch from Abhadauria: "Google has unlimited potential."

Whether or not Google's potential is "unlimited," I doubt many people argue about whether Google is a talented, innovative company. The most strident disagreement is about whether the stock is overvalued at this point. One thing's for sure: Lots of people will be watching Google with interest in 2007 to see if it can keep up its amazing growth.

You don't have to search for further Foolishness:

Check out the other companies featured in "The Motley Fool's 2006 in Review and 2007 Preview" special.

Yahoo! is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.