Wall St. analysts take a beating sometimes, and they are praised at other times. The lessons of the endless chasing of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) with higher and higher analyst price targets and sales figures came with a big price. The stock got way overbought as a result. Now with Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) crossing above $800 for the first time ever, and with two calls going up to $1,000 for a price target, we cannot help but wonder if this is some of the same Wall St. mojo happening here.
We have seen two serious Google upside calls in the past 24 hours. Bernstein raised its price target to $1,000 from $820, while CLSA lifted its price target to $1,000 from $900. The long and short of the matter is that Wall St. was far too negative and far too cautious on the trends impacting ad sales for Google and many other key online properties.
Our issue is that when you see one major hurdle crossed, and then a series of new higher hurdles and higher projections being made, it can signal a top. That might not be a long-term top, but how many days in a row can something rise indefinitely.
Also note that Jim Cramer touted a $1,000 target for Google briefly back in 2007, before the Great Recession wiped off the map that and every other bullish prediction on anything and everything. Before you read too much into that prior $1,000 note, it was a reference more than it was a dire prediction.
Another consideration is that when upside calls get too aggressive, they can be reckless. Last year when Priceline.com Inc. (NASDAQ: PCLN) was in the race to $1,000 with Google and Apple, the caveat was that when you read “pom-pom” articles that sound like a cheer leading squad, it may not signal the end of a run. It does, however, signal that the easy money already has been made.
One more caveat. Google is one of the companies in which shareholders have NO power whatsoever. And nonexecutive chairman (and ex-CEO) Eric Schmidt has made a move to unload about half of his Google holdings.
Google shares are up in mid-Thursday trading by $31.40 to $795.60, against a 52-week range of $556.52 to $808.97. Its market cap is now about $262 billion, and it trades at what Wall St. expects will be about 17.5 times the expected 2013 consensus earnings estimate from Thomson Reuters. The consensus estimate is $831.43.