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Study shows Google on revenue fast track

A day before reporting earnings, the search company finds itself atop a ranking of the fastest-growing tech businesses.

Google, this year's stock market darling, is on top of the charts once again.

The search company is No. 1 among the 500 fastest-growing technology companies in North America, according to rankings released Wednesday by financial-services firm Deloitte & Touche USA.

The Deloitte Technology Fast 500 ranks companies based on their percentage revenue growth for fiscal years 1999 through 2003. Over that five-year period, revenue at the search engine climbed from $220,000 to more than $961 million--a growth rate of 437,115 percent, Deloitte said.

This year marks the first time the Mountain View, Calif.-based search engine is figuring in the list. It wasn't until earlier this year that Google made its revenue figures public, as it prepared for its blockbuster debut on the Nasdaq in August. The ranking results come a day ahead of a quarterly earnings announcement by the company.

Google hasn't been resting on its IPO laurels. The company recently unveiled a desktop search tool that's seen as an invasion of Microsoft's control of desktop computing, because it searches for information on a user's PC as well as on the Web. Google has also announced new offerings, such as Google Print, similar to book searches at Amazon.com, and Google SMS, a software tool to allow people to search the Web from a mobile phone.

"Google tops a list of companies that are proving the resilience of the technology sector," Mark Evans, managing director of Deloitte's technology group, said in a statement. "With growth percentages ranging from 329 to 437,115 percent, the Fast 500 winners have demonstrated an ability to perform in difficult conditions."

Also among the top five positions in the list are STSN, a Salt Lake City-based Internet access provider for the hospitality industry, and Culver City, Calif.-based PriceGrabber.com, which offers comparison shopping services. STSN, in third place, posted $60 million in revenue in 2003, which is 118,706 percent higher than its revenue of $51,000 in 1999. PriceGrabber is in fifth place with 2003 revenue of $26.9 million, up 51,648 percent from its $52,000 in revenue in 1999.

Internet businesses in general represented 14 percent (70 companies) of the 2004 Fast 500 winners, down from 18 percent last year but up from 10 percent in 2002 and 15 percent in 2001. Software companies accounted for 38 percent of the 2004 winners, marginally lower than 39 percent the previous year. However, that's much lower than 48 percent in 2002 and 57 percent in 2001.

Companies on the list whose 2003 revenue exceeded $1 billion include chipmaker Sanmina-SCI ($10.4 billion) and networking firms Level 3 Communications ($4 billion) and UTStarcom ($2 billion).

Deloitte said 130 companies in its list were based in California, the highest among all states.

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