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Google Steamrolls Wall Street

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juggernaut: n. 1. Something, such as a belief or institution, that elicits blind and destructive devotion; 2. An overwhelming, advancing force that crushes or seems to crush everything in its path-Dictionary.com

Ask Jeeves for a synonym and you’ll find “steamroller” is the closest English one-word approximation for the Hindu icon.

But in light of JMP Securities’ recently raised 12-month price target on GOOG stock from $400 to an astonishing $575, “steamroller” can take a back seat in the thesaurus to “Google.”

The Street.com said that lofty prediction came from analyst William Morrison, who now has set the highest forecast on Google share prices. Morrison justifies his target by citing Google’s recent $1 billion investment into America Online.

“From a financial perspective, the deal was a ‘no brainer,’” writes Morrison in a note to clients. “According to our analysis, AOL is likely to generate $90 million in net revenue for Google this year.”

The search engine’s market value is now higher than IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell.

Currently squatting at around $420 per share, Google has analysts scratching their heads, afraid to commit to what the numbers are telling them. It just seems ridiculous, but the numbers are there. Still, even the most adventurous analysts are reluctant to project the stock beyond $500.

In a separate article, TheStreet.com’s Jonathan Berr quotes Thrivent Financial’s Mike Binger, who says having faith in the numbers is what the game is all about.

“It was too expensive at $200 and too expensive at $300,” says Binger. “Until the numbers show that they won’t have these spectacular growth rates anymore, we are going to continue to own it.”

But what does TheStreet.com’s star Wall Street guy, Jim Cramer, think? It kind of depends on which day you ask him. A week ago, “the most exciting company in the universe” continued to enthrall Cramer as he held firm to a $500 “no problem” prediction.

And when speaking on numbers only, that confidence isn’t misplaced. But Cramer seems reticent in other spheres, like when advising callers or investing for his Action Alerts PLUS charitable trust.

A day before his bullish $500 prediction, Cramer advised a caller on his radio show to hold Google until it reached $446, and then sell.

In his charitable trust as well, Cramer has not banked on Google’s success. That portfolio doesn’t include the Googlenaut. It has Yahoo as the safer bet.

But Berr points out that Yahoo is a different animal all together, trading around $40 per share. Hoefer & Arnett analyst Martin Pyykkonen gives Yahoo a strong buy rating, as its relationship with big advertisers is “broader and deeper” than Google’s.

No matter, though, the quarrels about Google’s projected worth, the shaky handwriting of the analysts who make those predictions, or the debate over which search engine is the safer bet. The odd men out in this saga are the analysts recommending that Google investors sell out. Over the last month, the so-called “too expensive” GOOG has received 25 “Buy” or “Strong Buy” recommendations, 10 “Hold,” and only 1 “Sell.”

Yes, I think juggernaut is the best word for it.

Google Steamrolls Wall Street
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