Success can be fatal in technology. That's because success leads to growth, and that frequently stifles the original creativity and innovative spirit that made the company great in the first place.
That predictable cycle has been on display once again in the past few years, with industry leaders Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) failing to capitalize fully on growth in mobile markets. In the dynamic technology sector, the biggest and most successful companies sometimes struggle to stay current with the latest trends, much less lead the market with groundbreaking technology or innovation.
But one well-known technology giant is breaking the mold.
But unlike many other mega-cap market leaders content to let growth stifle innovation, this company continues to produce market-leading technology in multiple high-growth markets.
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is already one of the most valuable and powerful companies in the world. Since going public in the fall of 2003, shares are up more than 750%, giving the company an eye-popping market cap of $293 billion.
Google's charge higher has been driven by its dominance in the search market, where the company is the undisputed global leader and accounts for close to 75% of total revenue. According to market research firm ComScore, Google captured 66% of the domestic search market in April 2013. Google's dominance is even more pronounced in Europe, with market share over 90% in the U.K., France, Germany and Spain. Google is also the market leader in Canada, Latin America and most Asia/Pacific countries.
But instead of resting on its dominance in search, Google is leveraging its incredible intellectual and financial resources to pursuit opportunities in high-growth markets.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in Google's bold move into the mobile market. The company's Android operating system is the No. 1 mobile operating system in the U.S. with 50% market share. Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility in 2010 was a bold play on the hardware and devices side of mobile to create additional synergy with Android. Providing operating systems for mobile devices provides Google with incredible power and flexibility to expand its search business through mobile and share its deep portfolio of products and services.
Google is also looking to cash in on the fast growing wearable's market with its Google Glass product. According to Juniper Research, 70 million connected wearable gadgets will be sold in 2017, up from just 15 million this year. Google Glass is a bold play to cash in on that trend, entering the market as an early player and providing the industry with recognition and credibility. Google is expected to sell 124,000 Google Glasses this year, but the growth potential is huge.
|The company is looking to cash in on the growing wearable's market with its Google Glass product. Google expects to sell 124,000 units this year.|
Google is also making an aggressive move into broadband data services. The company is in the process of building a superfast 1-gigabit-per-second broadband network called Google Fiber. The broadband network has already been rolled out in a few select cities with excellent results, but long term, Goldman Sachs is predicting that Google could reach as many as 8 million homes in nine years, which would make it one of the largest broadband providers in the country.
Google is also pioneering the charge in driverless technology. This may sound like science fiction, but Google estimates that its self-driving cars can eliminate 90% of accidents per year, saving more than 30,000 lives and $400 billion in accident-related expenses. Although Google's driverless car is years away from potential commercialization, it's another example of how the company is developing game-changing technologies in huge growth markets.
But Google's portfolio of products and services doesn't end there: The company also owns a proprietary Web browser in Chrome, the second-largest search engine in the world in YouTube, document-sharing programs with Google Docs and online payment systems with Google Wallet.
Google will also have plenty of support from its powerhouse financial profile, with cash and equivalents of $50 billion and just $3 billion in long-term debt. That gives Google plenty of flexibility to invest in research and development and buy smaller competitors.
As you can see, Google is a diversified technology company that offers targeted exposure to some of the most bullish trends in the industry. That has analysts expecting big things for a company of Google's size: expected earnings growth of 13% in 2013 and 16% in 2014. In the next five years, analysts are projecting annual earnings growth of 16%.
Risks to Consider: Google is making big investments in high-risk projects like Google Glass, Google Fiber and the driverless car. Those new products and services require big capital investments before being able to evaluate profitability in commercialization.
Action to Take --> Google is the rare mega-cap in technology that continues to produce groundbreaking innovations in high-growth markets. But in spite of the company's impressive product portfolio and dominance in multiple segments of technology, Google's forward P/E (price-to-earnings) ratio of 23 times is in line with its peer average of 22.5 times.