You know you've hit it big when your company becomes an everyday verb (I've been "Googled!"), and the growth of Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been simply breathtaking. So many people thought it was overvalued when the company first went on the market, only to see the stock price keep climbing. Believe it or not, I think there's still time to make some serious money on this stock, even though it's trading close to $500 and has a P/E over 60.
Google will announce its fourth-quarter earnings on January 31, and if they're as positive as they've been in the past, the stock price should keep going up. This company has enjoyed more than 10% growth in its operating profits for several consecutive quarters now, and I doubt it will be any different for the fourth quarter. There is concern that Checkout, Google's payment system that is challenging the popular PayPal, may dent its earnings, but Google has been doing aggressive promotions and the company has a small share of the market. With companies steadily increasing their online advertising spending, I think Google's results will still be strong.
There are some reasons to worry for the long-term. It's always possible that new search technology will emerge to challenge Google, and the company will have to continue to invest money to keep its cutting edge. It's not yet clear what kind of revenues will result from the purchase of YouTube, and it's possible that the video site will create a number of legal headaches for Google. Also, companies may find new ways to advertise online that don't involve Google.
But for now, I still think this company is on an upward trajectory. Its huge profits so far have supplied the company with billions in cash and no debt, which Google is using to grow internationally and to buy other companies. I think this is going to hit $600 this year, but I'd be careful going into 2008.
Type of stock: A hugely popular and profitable Internet company with a great deal of upside left. This is a risky stock -- even as Google continues going up, the swings are so extreme that you could lose money. This stock is cruel and falls harder (psychologically) than it rises.
Price target: Although risky, I'd buy now and ride this one up. If you see it get to $600, as I'm predicting, I'd seriously consider selling. You might lose a bit on the upside, but you'll protect yourself against a potential long-term decline.