Friday, October 7, 2016
Here's what Wall Street is saying after Google's big hardware event
Wall Street was impressed by Tuesday's big Google event, whichunveiled new hardware such as the Pixel phone and the Google Home device, and launched the company's new artificial intelligence Assistant on several new devices.
The company's stock has remained stable since then — it's up slightly, about 0.46% as of 10 a.m. Wednesday — but analysts say the new products are a good sign for Google, even though it appears to be following in the footsteps of other, more accomplished hardware companies such as Apple and Amazon.
Here's what Wall Street analysts had to say:
Macquarie remains bullish on Google, affirming its "outperform" rating and setting a price target of $975. It describes Google's new products as "me too" — meaning it's showing up to the game a bit late, after Apple has mastered the smartphone and Amazon has dominated the AI device market with Alexa and the Echo.
While Macquarie thinks Google's voice recognition capabilities could be what sets the Assistant and Google Home apart from the competition, it's taking a conservative view on the new products:
"GOOG's past attempts at hardware (Nexus, Chromebooks, Glass, Nest, etc...) have not amounted to much and given their track record, we are not going to give them the benefit of the doubt on any hardware efforts until we see otherwise. The bottom line is the VR and AI capabilities shown are interesting but we don't see much hardware here that's particularly innovative versus what's currently in the market. We think this is particularly disappointing given GOOG's focus on R&D, virtually unlimited resources and unique capabilities."
According to Jefferies, Google just introduced "some of its most interesting hardware devices yet." Jefferies' price target is on the higher end — $1,000 — and it's maintaining a "buy" rating.
Perhaps most interestingly, Jefferies is taking a very bullish stance on Google Home. Analysts estimated the market for virtual assistants could reach $2.1 billion by 2017, and Jefferies says Google Home has the potential to add $500 million in revenue for Google by then.
Baird set one of the more conservative price targets, at $900, and rates Google's stock at "outperform." But Baird is betting most on machine learning and AI as the key to Google's success down the line.
Here's what Baird's analysts wrote:
"As AI/Machine Learning emerge as the next 'computing wave,' Google's virtual assistant sits at the core of both Pixel and Home, and showcase the focus at the intersection of hardware and software. We continue to believe that Google's ML/AI capabilities are a key competitive differentiator, often overlooked by investors."
Though Baird describes AI as still in the "early innings," it says Google's machine-learning capabilities can only get better — Baird expects voice recognition, machine translation, and image recognition to vastly improve over time.