Not so fast, Rich. You can't get away that easily. Valuation is a crucial issue for investors in Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) .
You say it's a given that the stock is overvalued. I say ... balderdash. I mean, really, it's easy to use trailing earnings as a barometer and then say the stock isn't worth the pricey paper it's printed on. But that argument doesn't add up when you realize that analysts have been wrong, wrong, wrong when it comes to projecting Google's future.
Using your logic, I'd have to say that Rule Breaking firms such as Protein Design Labs (Nasdaq: PDLI ) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: VRTX ) , both of which lack earnings and therefore sport infinite P/E ratios, have no business being in anyone's portfolio. But then I'd be missing out on gains of nearly 50% in Protein Design Labs and more than 70% in Vertex. The point here is simple: In investing, absolutes are usually absolute garbage.
Waaaah! I stubbed my toe
Now, let me get this straight: The other piece of the argument is that Google is ... childish? A bumbling 1-year-old incapable of properly allocating shareholders' money? You get style points for creativity on this one, Rich. But, again, the argument rings hollow.
Sure, the pre-IPO mistakes were embarrassing. As are the related Gmail debacles. They're indicative of a company that wants badly to innovate and get to market fast with products that matter. Mistakes were bound to happen, but in most cases, the company has been successful. Take Google Maps, for example. Recent data from researcher HitWise found that the company's mapping service already ranks third in terms of market share, at close to 10%. Google Maps was unveiled in April.
Growing up and moving out
The problem with arguing against Google is that no one is able to concretely define the outer limits of the Web. Till that happens, Google, already the Donald Trump of digital real estate, has unlimited room to expand. Think about that for a second: Google's advertising market opportunity grows with every new site that pops up in the public domain.
A group of researchers at the University of California at Berkeley estimated the size of the publicly accessible Web at more than 167 terabytes of data in 2003, or equal to 560,000 sets of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. That was more than triple the total from 2000. Now consider that the Web shows no signs of slowing its march forward. Is this really the company you want to bet against?
You're not done. This is just one part of a four-part Duel! Don't miss Tim's original bullish argument for Google, as well as Rich Smith's bearish spin and rebuttal. When you're done, you're still not done. You canvoteand let us know who you think won this Duel.
Fool contributorTim Beyersshouldn't admit this, but Google is his browser's home page. Yet, ironically, he still didn't own shares of Google or any of the other companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what is in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile, which ishere. The Motley Fool has an ironcladdisclosure policy.