Markets & Finance

Analyst Actions: Google, Aflac


From Standard & Poor's Equity ResearchSTIFEL RAISES ESTIMATE, REITERATES BUY ON GOOGLE

Stifel analyst George Askew says Google's (GOOG) fourth quarter revenues excluding traffic acquisition costs were solid at $4.2179 billion, up 24.5% year-over-year, beating his estimate and Street forecast.

Askew notes that EPS, excluding $1.1 billion in equity impairments for investments in AOL (TWX) and Clearwire (CLWR), were well ahead of estimates with diluted cash EPS of $5.10 and GAAP EPS of $4.66.

He says GOOG is excelling in a recession by 1) focusing on highest margin revenue -- its owned sites; 2) cutting costs where possible; 3) eliminating non-core bizs; 4) partially hedging currency impact on cash flows.

He raises $22.25 2009 cash EPS estimate to $22.79. He keeps $475 price target.

RAYMOND JAMES UPGRADES AFLAC TO STRONG BUY FROM OUTPERFORM

Raymond James analyst Steven Schwartz says he believes that the fears concerning a competitor's report on Aflac's (AFL) holdings of hybrid securities is overblown.

He nnotes AFL shares fell nearly 37% yesterday following a report by a competitor pointing out that prices of hybrid securities issued by European banks had plummeted following news of substantial losses at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and fears that it might be nationalized by Britain.

Schwartz maintains $4.82 2009 non-GAAP operating EPS estimate and $5.46 for 2010. But he notes fears are unlikely to go away any time in the near term, thus he drops his $51.50 target to $40.


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