UPDATE 1-RESEARCH ALERT-Jefferies raises Google to buy

venerdì 18 aprile 2008 15:10

 (Recasts, adds details, share movement)
 April 18 (Reuters) - Jefferies & Co upgraded Google
(GOOG.O: Quotazione) to "buy" from "hold," saying the Internet leader
showed impressive improvements in converting Web searchers into
advertising viewers and delivered stellar quarterly results,
defying economic headwinds.
 Google's better-than-expected first-quarter results, which
dispelled fears of an online advertising slump, also prompted
analysts at Merrill Lynch, Oppenheimer, Lehman, RBC Capital and
Citigroup to raise their price targets on one of the hottest
technology stocks of 2007.
 As the undisputed leader in the Internet space, Google is
best-positioned to benefit from the secular shift of ad dollars
online even while facing economic headwind, Jefferies analyst
Youssef Squali said.
 International revenue accounted for 51 percent of Google's
first-quarter total revenue and surpassed U.S. revenue for the
first time. Translating overseas sales into a weaker dollar
helped boost Google revenue by nearly 4 percent.
 Google's focus on international markets and the early
stages of its penetration in many emerging markets lower the
company's exposure to recession in the US, Jefferies said.
 The Internet giant posted strong results even as Wall
Street debated over whether recent comScore data showing Google
having trouble converting Web searchers into advertising
viewers was an indication its best days of growth are behind
 Paid clicks, a measure of how often users of its Web search
click on ads tied to search results, rose 4 percent from the
fourth quarter of 2007 and grew 20 percent from a year ago.
 "We believe Google is operating well in a challenging
environment and that the company's efforts to improve ads
quality will pay off more over time despite the potential
near-term hit to revenue," Lehman Brothers analyst Douglas
Anmuth said.
 Google's shares were up more than 18 percent at $532 in
trading before the bell on Nasdaq. However, they are about 30
percent below their Nov 2007 highs of $747.24.
 The following table gives a list of brokerages, their price
targets and ratings on the technology stock:
                  New     Old
 Jefferies        $600    $600             Buy
 Merrill Lynch    $600    $580             --*
 Lehman           $620    $580             Overweight
 Citigroup        $630    $600             Buy*
 RBC Capital      $550    $530             Outperform
 Oppenheimer      $620    $600             Outperform*
 * As reported by theflyonthewell.com
 (Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan in Bangalore; Editing by Anil