Google: A Decade of Search

09/04/2014 8:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Richard Moroney

Editor, Dow Theory Forecasts

This search engine leader recently celebrated its tenth birthday as a publicly traded company; it went public in August 2004, at a split-adjusted price of $42.50, giving the stock a gain of approximately 1,300% in its fairly brief life, recalls Richard Moroney, editor of Dow Theory Forecasts.

While investors should not expect Google (GOOG) to match that stellar performance over the next ten years, this market adolescent still has ample capital gains potential.

Digital advertising makes up only about one-quarter of total media ad spending worldwide, leaving plenty of opportunity for Google to expand its digital reach. And the firm’s sprawling investments, from self-driving cars and alternative energy to drones and space travel, offer the potential for homeruns down the road.

Business is clicking. Digital ad spending worldwide is expected to hit more than $137 billion in 2014, according to eMarketer. That’s an increase of nearly 15% over 2013 levels and Google continues to gain market share.

For 2014 overall, the consensus earnings estimate is $26.44, up 20% from $21.94 in 2013, on revenue of $66.7 billion, up more than 11%.

For 2015, the consensus earnings estimate is $31.57 giving the stock a valuation of less than 19 times the 2015 estimate, or about 16 times earnings excluding cash holdings of roughly $61 billion, or about $90 per share.

That seems fairly cheap for a company growing the top and bottom lines at healthy double-digit rates. The stock is a Long-Term Buy.

So, which Google to own? On April 2, Google issued shares of a Class C stock as a dividend to stockholders.

The effect was a 2-for-1 stock split, with Google holders now owning shares in (GOOGL) (the “old” Class A shares) and GOOG shares (the Class C shares, which trade at $587). GOOGL shares, which have voting rights, have consistently traded at a premium to nonvoting GOOG Class C shares.

Google has said that, should a discount persist between the two share classes during the first year of trading, the company would compensate GOOG holders with additional shares and/or cash. We recommend that holders of GOOG Class C shares maintain positions, but new buying should be done in the GOOGL shares.

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