A few days after an analyst sent
reeling downward with a research note that warned of signs that search-related advertising was slowing, another influential analyst stepped forward to argue that things may not be so dire.
Safa Rashtchy of Piper Jaffray issued a research note Monday morning arguing that concerns about a search slowdown may be overblown. "The current perceived concern on weakness in search pricing is entirely misguided and only seasonal," Rashtchy wrote.
Noting that search pricing can be tricky to measure, Rashtchy argued that "with 12 million to 15 million keywords now in use and expanding, there is really no statistically relevant metric that can show the actual pricing. Search volume is in fact the most important factor to watch and we see no slowdown in that." (Rashtchy's firm has no banking relationship with the two companies.)
A similar slowdown spooked investors in the second quarter of 2004, which Rashtchy said "proved to be one of the single best opportunities for buying that we believe has developed over the past three years. We believe this year we are likely to see a comparable opportunity."
That sunny outlook contrasts sharply with one issued by RBC Capital Markets' Jordan Rohan, who last week cut his rating on Google to sector perform from top pick, and his Yahoo! rating to sector perform from outperform. Rohan had indicated that a slowdown in search advertising he detected was an "inflection point" from robust search revenue to weaker-than-expected revenue in the current quarter.