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business briefing

These are stories Report on Business is following Monday, Oct. 21, 2013.

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Google at $1,000
I'll bet Google Inc. co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had a great weekend: After Friday's surge in the Internet giant's stock price, according to Forbes, they added almost $6-billion between them to their net worth.

Google shares cracked $1,000 after it posted a surge in third-quarter profit and revenue, with a nice showing on paid clicks.

Profit climbed to almost $3-billion or $8.75 a share, while revenue jumped 12 per cent to $14.9-billion.

Shares climbed dipped today, but remained above the $1,000 mark they cracked last week, raising questions about what's next for the Internet giant.

Analysts have boosted their price target on Google shares, suggesting further moves in its meteoric rise.

"We  continue to view Google as one of the best-positioned in our space to benefit from the proliferation of connected devices and the ensuing lift in engagement," said Credit Suisse analyst Stephen Ju, who raised his target on the stock to $1,200 from $1,000.

"And we view the volume growth as a leading indicator of where its top line growth can go as pricing on mobile will eventually close the gap with desktop."

Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Graham, in turn, hiked his price target to $1,000 from $940 after Google's earnings.

Maple Leaf could sell bakery stake
Maple Leafs Foods Inc. says it's looking at alternatives for its bakery business, and could sell its 90-per-cent stake in Canada Bread Co.

The Canadian food company said it recently reviewed its bakery business to determine how to drive growth, but before pumping money in wants to look at other options, including such a sale.

It expects to decide by early next year, The Globe and Mail's Eric Atkins reports.

"There are significant growth opportunities in the baked goods sector that may be pursued, either as part of Maple Leaf or under new ownership," Maple Leaf said.

"Maple Leaf believes that either outcome would result in a strong commitment to realizing the full potential of this business."

Canada Bread, whose brands include Dempster's, said it's forming a special committee of independent directors in connection with the possible sale.

Oil dips
U.S. oil prices dipped below the $100-a-barrel mark today amid expectations that the U.S. government's crude inventory numbers will indicate that supplies are on the rise.

The price dipped about $1.10 (U.S.) to around $99.70 early in the day.

Key for this week
There's much to chew on for investors this week, from earnings to the economy.

Front and centre will be a flood of quarterly corporate reports, and a policy statement and monetary policy report from the Bank of Canada.

Several Canadian resource companies will unveil their latest earnings reports, as will the railways.

As The Globe and Mail's Rachelle Younglai reports, the country's miners will begin reporting what's expected to be poor third-quarter results, but with a glimmer of hope.

And as Carrie Tait writes, Encana Corp. could go so far as to cut its dividend when it reports results on Wednesday.

Then there are the railways, Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., which face challenges from higher pensions costs to strained labour relations, Bertrand Marotte reports. CN reports tomorrow, and CP on Wednesday.

Also watch for Thursday's report from Microsoft Corp., which, as Omar El Akkad writes, is in the midst of a shift to mobile.

Several U.S. companies also report earnings this week. According to Derek Holt and Dov Zigler of Bank of Nova Scotia, 70 per cent of the 100 S&P 500 companies that have posted results to date have topped analysts' profit estimates, while 55 per cent have eclipsed the sales forecasts.

On the economic front, governor Stephen Poloz and his colleagues at the Bank of Canada meet this week, and are expected to trim their growth forecast when they release their statement and monetary policy report on Wednesday.

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