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Some Thoughts On Google (GOOG)


One stock I bought during the March freefall was Google (GOOG). I bought some originally at around $520 and then after it dipped, some more in the $420-$450 range.

After outperforming in its recent quarter, the stock is trading around $575 right now. I’ve taken a bit off the table, but I still have about 80%+ of my shares. I’m still deciding what sort of price I’d sell it at. To me, it was an obvious and clear buy when it was in the low $400′s, but now I’m not so sure. Here are my pros and cons:

Pros:

Google is the clear tech leader in the web industry, period. Other companies are 5+ years behind. Everything Google does is better than its competitors. Some of this has more monetization possibilities than others. For example, as someone who uses adsense, I can tell you that no other advertising network can match its quality (and its Adsense program makes up about 30%+ of its income). To match Google, an advertising network would need to A) serve ads contextually how Google does and B) draw advertisers as effectively as Google does. The technology really isn’t that difficult to do A, but most networks still seem to struggle (Yahoo can’t seem to roll out its YPN network out of Beta). As for B, that is the most difficult to replace, giving Google the biggest moat.

As for search, I don’t see anyone catching up to Google. Even if other search engines can get almost as good as Google, people are so used to using Google that they will likely continue. It seems Google has won the search engine wars for good. Google’s main threat is people stop using search engines, or use them less in the future.

I see web advertising just getting bigger in the future. Web advertising has the capability of being much more targeted than TV or radio advertising. You know your audience’s general demographic, as well as their exact location (using IP addresses). You can test conversion far better as well. With the expansion of broadband, video ads will become more common (though annoying). I believe we’ll begin to see more traditional branding campaigns on the Internet, instead of just advertisers just looking for leads. Well, I suppose people have been saying that for years, but with the advent of DVRs and such, it will happen more and more.

Cons:

PPC is currently very high on the Google ad network. This is of course because when everyone thinks of web advertising, they immedietly think of Google. We have to assume that most advertisers are already paying top dollar for their ads. This might not be the case in 3-4 years as other advertising networks have viable alternatives.

It’s not clear how much more Google can grow. Yes, it can stay on top, but how else will it expand its revenues? Some of its programs, like Google Analytics, are amazing, but it’s not clear if Google will ever be charging for these programs. Gchat/Gmail are great, but how value added are they really?

Taking all of these things into account, I think Google’s a hold for me for a year or so (unless it hits like $750 or something and becomes a tad overvalued). We’ll see how everything plays out. Should be very interesting!

Disclaimer: Author owns shares of Google, (GOOG)

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