The paid-search business is returning more on
capital than Wall Street realizes, Lehman Bothers said Thursday in raising its price target to $350 from $275.
The stock closed at $298.86 Wednesday and was recently up $5.24, or 1.8%, to $304.10 on Instinet. The stock's all-time high is $309.25.
"We believe Google simply can't spend money fast enough given the extremely high incremental margins associated with the core search business," Lehman said. "The company's technological focus and lean approach to new projects provide distinct advantages in terms of costs and efficiency."
Lehman raised its estimate of Google's second-quarter earnings by 6 cents to $1.28 a share, excluding various expenses. The Thomson First Call consensus is $1.20 a share. On the top line, Lehman sees second-quarter revenue of $861 million, up from $844 million. The consensus is $841 million.
"While we expect the second quarter of 2005 to be a strong quarter, our higher price target and incrementally more positive outlook on the company are based on Google's fundamental earnings power over the long term," Lehman said.