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Google Shares Briefly Top $200 Mark

Wed Nov 3, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Shares of Web search leader Google Inc. (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) topped $200 on Wednesday, fueled by short covering from traders who bet on a stock decline and investors' search for growth stocks.

In breaking through that threshold, a level reminiscent of the Internet froth of the late 1990s, the stock was up nearly 140 percent from when Google went public two months ago at $85 a share.

The stock briefly touched a new high of $201.60 before retreating to $195.88, still up $1.01, early Wednesday afternoon on Nasdaq.

The rise follows Prudential Equity Group analyst Mark Rowan's call on Oct. 22 that the stock would hit $200. An associate of Rowan's on Wednesday said he was not available to comment.

Compared with other Internet names like Yahoo Inc. (YHOO.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and eBay Inc. (EBAY.O: Quote, Profile, Research) , Google has a small number of shares available for public trade, contributing to big moves in its stock.

Short traders, who were expecting the stock to fall, have helped drive it up as they scrambled to buy hard-to-find shares to cover bad bets.

"I think what we are seeing is the continuation of the price pattern in the stock that we have seen in the past few days," said Tim Biggam, chief options strategist with Man Financial.

Biggam said Google shares have flirted with new highs over the past four trading sessions only to falter and close near the lows of the day.

"It's running out of steam as buyers seem to be exhausted at these lofty levels. I would expect that sometime over the next week or so, that sellers of Google stock may finally prevail and we could see a couple of fairly significant down days," Biggam said.

Even if his prediction for a short-term sell-off proves to be wrong, Biggam said he believes that Google's rally cannot continue in the same frenzied pace in front of the Nov. 16 lockup expiration, when 39.1 million Google shares held by employees and early investors will become eligible for sale.

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