Google To Face Margin Pressure As Costs Mount

Google Inc. was initiated with an equalweight rating early Monday at Morgan Stanley. Head analyst Ben Swinburne, who has a $600 price target on the stock, called the search engine giant a long-term secular winner, but said estimates appear high and its efforts to diversify are proving expensive. Fiscal 2015 revenue targets "look aggressive," he said, particularly amid currency headwinds. The company's search already holds 14% of the U.S. advertising market, and it is facing increased competition from Facebook . As for capital spending, R&D has doubled to $22 billion in 2014 from $11 billion in 2012. That's an increase of 42% of net revenue from 29% two years ago. Money has flowed to talent, data centers, real estate and new business lines, which Swinburne said should "bear fruit over time." But he said returns are unlikely to reach the level of its core search business, which suggests Google's margins could be under pressure for some time. Shares of Google were off 0.1% to $567.52 in premarket trade. They are up 1.2% year-to-date, compared with the broader S&P 500's gain of 9.2%.

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