Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is under heavy fire by the European Union, as the newest anti-trust probe draws to a close. The current investigation surrounds allegations that Google is gaining an unfair edge on competitors by forcing phone manufacturers to pre-load Google apps on the Android.
A decision by the EC to take punitive measures against the tech giant could have far reaching ramifications beyond the expected colossal fine. Consequences of a negative EC decision could force the company to redesign the Android, change its AdSense advertising and also cause a domino reaction by other regulatory bodies.
Considering that the new EC fine is expected to far surpass the previous $2.7 billion fine levied on Alphabet for using Google search to give illegal advantages to its own comparison shopping service, it is difficult to determine how the story will play out. Chiming in, top analyst Youssef Squali of SunTrust released his thoughts on the Google-EC showdown noting that “due to the lack of visibility regarding the magnitude, timing and potential appeals process […] We note that GOOGL has $94.7B in cash and equivalent.”
The EC case might just be the tip of the iceberg in a potential landslide of complaints against Google. The analyst explains that “Google still faces complaints against them from competitors or the EC regarding other products as well. Some of them are its news functionality on search which publishers are saying causes a potential loss of revenue by posting too much content and decreasing click throughs.”
However, according to Squali, the bigger issue is the ongoing investigation into Android OS and AdSense, underscoring: “the EC has been looking into whether the Android OS was used to stifle competition; and the bigger concerns for us are whether 1) Google will be forced to dramatically alter Android and unbundle key parts of it, and 2) there’ll be further action from the EC on other issues such as AdSense for Search. We are not changing our estimates at this time.”
As such, the analyst maintains a Buy rating on GOOGL stock with a $1,100 price target representing a 17% rise over current trading levels.
Youssef Squali has an outstanding TipRanks score with a 72% success rate and a high ranking of #12 out of 4,608 analysts. Sebastian realizes 18.9% in his annual returns. However, when recommending GOOGL, the analyst posts gains of 16.6%.
Tipranks analytics reveal GOOGL as a Strong Buy. Out of 33 analysts polled by TipRanks (in the past 3 months), 30 are bullish, while 3 are sidelined on Alphabet stock. With a near 17% upside potential the stock’s consensus price target stands at $1,098.94.