In a research report published Friday, Axiom analyst Victor Anthony upgraded shares of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) from a Hold to a Buy rating and raised the price target to $850 (from $615), which represents a potential upside of 41% from where the stock is currently trading. The increased rating and price target come in response to Google’s quarterly results that handily beat analyst expectations through stronger-than-expected revenue growth and tighter controls on costs.
Net Revenues of $14.350 billion, were less than 1% above Anthony’s estimate, driven by both Websites and Network revenue growth and lower TAC. Non-GAAP operating margin of 41.5% was above Anthony’s estimate of 40.9%, driven by lower cash opex, mostly from G&A (lower legal expenses) and lower S&M than we had modeled. Non-GAAP EPS of $6.99 was above the analyst’s estimate of $6.78.
Anthony wrote, “After seeing the share price stagnate for the past 18 months, we believe now is the right time to buy the stock. 2Q results show that the fundamentals have improved significantly: revenue growth accelerated, expense growth decelerated, mobile and Desktop CPCs are growing, and YouTube is experiencing solid growth. We believe those trends are sustainable. CFO Ruth Porat seems focused on operating expense discipline, improving margins, and maximizing shareholder value. 2Q results are likely the beginning of an Apple moment for Google’s shares.”
According to TipRanks.com, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, analyst Victor Anthony has a total average return of 17.8% and a 70.5% success rate. Anthony has a 8.6% average return when recommending GOOGL, and is ranked #57 out of 3712 analysts.
Out of the 45 analysts polled by TipRanks, 35 rate Google stock a Buy, while 10 rate the stock a Hold. With a return potential of 5.4%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $634.54.