Google Still Eating Yahoo!’s Lunch

Shares of Google (GOOG) are soaring about $30 per share, or 7%, today after another very impressive quarterly report. After a profit warning from Yahoo! (YHOO), many Google skeptics postulated we could see some slight weakness in the search leader’s business, but they turned out to be very wrong. At least for now, issues are Yahoo! appear to be more company-specific than industry-specific. The way I see it, Yahoo! is simply becoming more and more irrelevant in the portal space.

As I have been doing periodically, I will once again update my views on the long GOOG/short YHOO paired trade I originally recommended at prices of $403 and $32, respectively. Today’s huge move up for Google, coupled with a 1 percent drop in Yahoo! brings us to $455 and $23 per share. This results in both stocks trading at about 35 times prior 2007 estimates. After the Google report, 2007 EPS numbers should move from $13/share toward $14/share.

Now that their multiples have essentially converged, which was the thesis behind the paired trade, what do I expect? At this point, I think it is reasonable to put Google at 40x and Yahoo! at 30x forward earnings. If Google hits $14 next year and Yahoo! meets their numbers, we are looking at around $20 per share for YHOO and $560 for Google. That would give this trade another 15 or 20 percent upside from here. As a result, I’m letting it ride.