Merriman Curhan Ford analyst Richard Fetyko slapped a sell rating on Google this morning, saying he sees downside to analysts' consensus estimates and that investors will get a better entry point in the next six months.
The full report is here, but here's a summary of his reasoning:
-The weak consumer and business purchasing environment spells bad news for search-engine marketing. But: "SEM is expected to be among the last places to see cuts, and we are there now."
-The company's paid-click volume is under pressure. People are searching for fewer commercial items and they're clicking on fewer ads.
-Fetyko sees a slowdown in international regions in the fourth quarter of 2008 and into 2009. Just over half of Google's sales are done overseas.
So at what price would Fetyko tell investors to buy?
The ideal range is $200 to $240, he says. The case going forward: "Long term, we see Google as a major beneficiary of the secular shift of advertising budgets from offline to online and mobile channels."
Barron's Tech Trader Daily wasn't thrilled with the call:
"This would have been a lot more impressive call when the stock was at $300. Or $400. Or $500. Or $600. Or $700."
Do you agree?