Commentary

Pulsing Google

Google pulse

Analysts have released a handful of reports this week providing insight into Google's position across a variety of markets, from mobile to search to China.

At telecom analyst firm Ovum, an application developer survey for mobile found Google's cloud APIs is the preferred platform among mobile developers. The study reveals 60% of developers use or plan to use Google's server-side APIs when building applications, leaving adoption of mobile network operator APIs lagging at 25%.

Ovum Analyst Michele Mackenzie isn't surprised. A multiple-choice part of the study suggests 70% of developers look for easy-to-use tools when selecting partners for application development, followed by 69% who want a variety of platform functions, 68% looking for good-quality SDKs, and 63% wanting flexibility and innovation in the tools.

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So how is Google doing on Wall Street these days? "There are positive catalysts in the back half of the year which could potentially drive [Google] stock up," J.P. Morgan Analyst Imran Khan wrote in a published research note this week. "In short, we see roughly 21% upside from the current stock price."

Khan attributes that uptick, in part, to the fact that Google's stock price has declined by 15% since the beginning of the year. Google's stock typically outperforms in Q2, excluding 2008, he explains.

"We think that weakness in CPCs [cost-per-clicks] in F09 was due to macroeconomic weakness and not permanent structural changes," Khan wrote. "In fact, Google saw a recovery in retail, travel, local, tech, and finance verticals in 1Q, which helped support a 7% Y/Y increase in CPCs."

Khan isn't the only analyst who sees signs that could potentially drive up Google's stock in the second part of this year. "We believe shares of GOOG have been unfairly punished since the beginning of the year for the company's new China strategy and missing Street hopes for stronger Q1 revenue growth," Piper Jaffray Analyst Gene Munster wrote in a research note.

Jaffray explains Google's stock shares are trading at 10x FY2010 EBITDA, but in the firm's opinion should trade at closer to 13x or 14x. Jaffray writes that Google continues as one of the best-run companies on the Internet and suggests that it could still grow revenue 20% this year and between 12% and 15% during the next few years.

Overseas, however, Google's decision to pull out of the search market weakened its position in China and helped Baidu, the country's largest search engine, thrive. Baidu's first quarter earnings more than doubled, and profits rose to $70.4 million, surpassing analysts' expectation of $1.50 per share.

Baidu's revenue increase came from continued success of the Phoenix Nest transition and Google changing its position in China, Munster wrote.

Google's stock price of $527.74 was recorded at 11:18 a.m. EDT, Thursday.

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