How long can Google’s shares stay airborne?
Google stock has hovered near an all-time high of $774.38 since touching that peak on October 5. To break through that level, investors and analysts say it needs to run a gauntlet of risks that could undermine its status as technology’s second-most valuable company. The most immediate concerns centre on competition in the mobile arena, which is shaping up as the main battleground for tech supremacy among Google, Amazon.com, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook.
Investors point out that Google’s Android — despite being the world’s most-used mobile software — has yet to yield significant revenue growth. And the company has not yet articulated a coherent strategy in the wake of its $12.5-billion acquisition in May of cellphone maker Motorola Mobility.
In the longer term, a rising wave of regulatory scrutiny both at home and abroad could represent the single biggest risk to the Google story. Regulators are looking into whether Google is competing unfairly by favouring its own properties in its core search product, and whether it inappropriately uses sensitive personal data to target ads.
To be sure, of 45 investment brokerages that cover Google, 36 rate it a “buy” or “strong buy”, with the median price target standing at $845 — up another 12% from current levels — and the most bullish target at $910. Among portfolio managers, at least one maintains a
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