Google's stock price has been lagging the overall market so far, but that didn't seem to bother several hundred mostly festive shareholders who attended the online search leader's annual meeting Thursday.
About the only letdown during the 75-minute session came when Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said the company has no plans to split its stock, reiterating a stand that the board has consistently taken. The question comes up frequently because of Google's lofty stock price, which finished Thursday at $461.47.
But Google shares haven't fared so well so far this year, gaining just 99 cents, or 0.2%, since the end of 2006. Meanwhile, the bellwether Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed 6%, while the Standard Poor's 500 index - of which Google is a component - has increased 5%
In other comments to reporters, Schmidt said Google has no interest in entering the bidding for Dow Jones or Reuters Group , which both received takeover offers this month. He also predicted the company would clear all the necessary regulatory hurdles to complete its planned $3.1 billion acquisition of Internet ad distributor DoubleClick Inc. by the end of this year.
Preserving Google's famously collegiate atmosphere while also expanding into new markets represents the company's biggest challenge, Schmidt told reporters during a question-and-answer session held before the annual meeting.
Google has hired nearly 10,000 employees since the end of 2004 and still expects to add thousands of more workers before this year is over.
"In the last year, my biggest worry has been scaling the business," Schmidt said. "When you grow this quickly, you are bringing in employees who believe they understand the Google vision, but there is always the possibility you will lose the formula."
Google's expansion has been fueled by its dominant position in the rapidly growing Internet ad market, which is expected to propel the company's annual revenue beyond $15 billion in just its 10th year in business.
Hoping to extend its success off-line, Google also is trying to use its automated approach to marketing to place ads in radio, television and newspapers. Schmidt told shareholders Thursday that this should be a "breakout" year for Google's push into radio advertising.
Google's stock was inactive in the premarket Friday.