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Google Inc.'s (Nasdaq: GOOG) plan to merge its European operations might look like a defensive pullback, but it's really a potential buying opportunity. In fact, Money Morning's Defense and Tech Specialist Michael Robinson thinks the stock could soar 50% over the next three and a half years.
The search giant said on February 25 that it would merge its two European divisions. Analysts said the move was necessary for Google to defend itself against regulatory and legal assaults, such as the "Right to be Forgotten" European Union court ruling, antitrust allegations, and complaints about tax avoidance. But the company isn't assuming a defensive crouch under new European boss Matt Brittin. In fact, it is teeing up for more growth.
On February 10, Robinson said, "Many of the moves from Google have seemed like so many jigsaw-puzzle pieces dumped on the floor. While many on Wall Street couldn't see it, Google was laying out its vision for the future – if you knew what to look for. Google is building the ultimate conglomerate of the near future." It's recent purchase of mobile-payment company Softcard is another important piece of this strategy.
Sure, the company has lost over 9% of its value over the past year, weighed down by the regulatory and legal problems. But if its puzzle pieces all fit together as it hopes, this could be a buying opportunity. Robinson's rationale? "In the fourth quarter, Google's earnings per share jumped 40% to $6.91 a share. If it just had annual increases of half that amount, it could double earnings in about three and a half years. To be conservative, I'm projecting that earnings and the stock price could rise by 50% over that period."