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Needham Ups Google to Buy from Hold

Needham raised its investment opinion on Google (GOOG) to buy from hold, explaining that the company's third quarter results beat expectations by a long shot.

Analyst Mark May said Google's growth was driven by gains at the company's owned and operated properties, but management (as usual) didn't provide guidance. He believes Google remains the leading tech company in the consumer Net space and views the stock as a core holding. He thinks the company's strong brand loyalty, substantial free cash flow, and team's track record of innovation will lead to further gains. He upped his $5.50 2005 earnings per share estimate to $5.82 on revenue of $3.91 billion, up from $3.68 billion, and ups his $6.59 2006 earnings per share to $7.71 on revenue of $5.86 billion, up from $5.39 billion. He also raised his $300 target to $370.

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