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Google's Underwriters Like the Stock

WR Hambrecht's William J. Lennan Jr. initiates with a buy rating and a $140 target price. Calling Google a "pure play on the fastest-growing form of online advertising," Lennan writes, "We think Google is in the early days of an enormous opportunity, as online advertising still represents less than 3% of the global advertising market."

J.P. Morgan rates Google overweight and Thomas Weisel rates it outperform, but neither firm assigns a price target to the stock.

Acknowledging Google's tendency to invest in projects that are appealing to consumers but aren't "overtly advertiser friendly," Weisel's Christa Sober Charles writes, "We believe the likelihood that Google invests in negative [return on investment] projects is high, but that the option value for a potential stepfunction technological improvement over its competitors is also high. Ultimately, gaining a larger share of online advertising is a ratings game, and if Google can drive consumer traffic to its site, effectively improving its ratings, its share of online advertising should continue to increase."

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