Google Executives Give Investors Hope

Google Inc.'s management certainly has a way with words. Shares of Google traded up 1.5% in premarket trade Friday - reversing a sharp drop in after-hours trade late Thursday - after management on a conference call with analysts painted a pretty picture of the company's 2015 initiatives and plans to improve earnings and the stock price, despite reporting a weak fourth quarter. "In contrast to most Google conference calls, the overall tone felt a little more shareholder friendly, with comments like 'we care about our stock price' and 'we balance growth and discipline,'" said Deutsche Bank analysts in a note to clients. Deutsche Bank reiterated a buy rating and $625 price target on the stock, while Credit Suisse maintained an overweight rating and $700 target. Not every brokerage was as bullish. Barclays maintained an overweight rating but lowered its price target by 5% to $620, though analyst Paul Vogel said management's tone will raise speculation about a possible cash return to shareholders. Citigroup maintained a buy rating but lowered its estimates on currency concerns and reduced its target to $629 from $652, Bank of America backed a neutral rating and $580 target, and B. Riley lowered its target to $604 from $632 on a buy rating.

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