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Google sales fall short as mobile competition rises

Google Inc.’s fourth-quarter sales and profit missed estimates as the Web company’s advertising business faced more competition on mobile devices.

Revenue, excluding sales passed on to partners, rose 6.9 percent to $14.5 billion, the company said Thursday, missing analysts’ average projection for $14.7 billion, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

CEO Larry Page is battling Facebook Inc. and other Web companies that are seeking to lure away users and advertisers on tablets and smartphones. Marketers are also paying less for mobile ads, driving fees lower within Google’s online-ad business. As a result, the average price of ads fell 3 percent in the quarter, following a decline of 2 percent in the previous period.

Google shares were little changed in extended trading after falling as much as 5.1 percent. The stock advanced less than 1 percent to $513.23 at the close in New York. Google was down 5.4 percent in 2014, compared with an 11 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Fourth-quarter net income rose 4.1 percent to $4.76 billion, or $6.91 a share, from $3.38 billion, or $4.95, a year earlier. Profit, excluding some items, was $6.88 a share, compared with analysts’ average projection for $7.11. Page boosted spending, as Google invests in areas outside of the company’s main search-advertising business, from high-speed Internet service and driverless cars to digital- payments systems and Web-linked glasses.