An interesting note this morning from David Edwards, who recently took over for Mark Mahaney as Internet analyst at American Technology Research. While many analysts are helping drive Google’s stock to new highs with out-of-this world valuations, Edwards is being cautious.
He cites the lack of guidance from Google as one reason for not raising his price target from $290 (it closed at $293 today). “Do we think the company can make the increased Street estimates? We see no reason to doubt the company’s ability. Our question is whether the company is trying to. Since the IPO process began, it was clear that Google is managed differently and that management intends to keep it that way. Since the company does not provide guidance, we do not know what the company is trying to achieve. In other words, we don’t know if the company is managing its business the way Wall Street would.’
Edwards also cites external factors, as well. A new comScore report on April search data showed that U.S. search volume was down 7.6 percent, month-to-month, after a 6.2 percent rise in March. “This seems a bit out of sync with the market’s general expectation that sequential search volume growth should be strong in Q1. Of course, this is a single data point and we are hesitant to draw too many conclusions because this is only one month of data, represents U.S. searches only, and doesn’t include information on click-through rates and prices-per-click. That said, this data doesn’t add to the increased expectations on the Street for the industry.”
Bottom line, says Edwards, is that he doesn’t have the conviction to be “incrementally bullish.” But Google is too good a stock to be bearish on.