Lawrence Balter

Sell Google, buy Apple?

March 11, 2013: 7:12 AM ET

An analyst who downgraded Apple last August now says that Google is due for a fall

Source: Oracle Inv. Res. Click to enlarge.

Source: Oracle Investment Research. Click to enlarge.

FORTUNE -- "We've seen this movie before (Apple at all time highs) and we know how it ends."

So began a brief note issued Sunday by Oracle Investment Research's Laurence Isaac Balter, chief market strategist at a boutique firm whose main claim to fame is his Aug. 21, 2012 downgrade of Apple (AAPL), five weeks before the stock went into a five-month swoon.

Now he's warning that Google (GOOG) may be next.

"As we begin to hear the rumblings of $1000 target prices and cheerleaders in pom-poms, we are raising the target price only slightly from $670 to $700 to reflect earnings per share growth, but we still think you are overpaying."

I don't pretend to fully understand Balter's accompanying chart (above), but it looks scary. As do the stats he rattles off:

  • From a P/E perspective, GOOG is the 10th most expensive in the S&P 100 at 24.6x
  • At 3.8x P/Book, it's the 31st most expensive
  • With a PEG ratio of 1.20, it's trading at a premium of its growth rate, whereas Apple's PEG ratio is just 0.55x (the 5th lowest in the entire S&P 500)
  • Over the past 5 years, GOOG has been compounding retained earnings at only 6.74%, whereas Apple has been nearly double that at 11.88%
  • GOOG's return on Assets has been declining at -6.47%/yr compounded rate, whereas Apple has been increasing by 11.7%/yr

For the record, by Dec. 5 last year Balter had changed his "hold" on Apple to a "buy" and then a "strong buy." The stock, however, continued to fall, from $570 to below $420.

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