Google’s Motorola Moto X Isn’t Really A Game Changer: Goldman

Google’s Motorola Moto X Isn’t Really A Game Changer: Goldman
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Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Motorola just unveiled the new Moto X handset, and most analysts agree that it isn’t really a game changer for the market. In fact, some see the situation as being a near term positive for both Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930). However, it isn’t necessarily this handset that may end up being the important one from Google, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs.

Google's Motorola Moto X Isn't Really A Game Changer: Goldman

Google’s Moto X is more costly than expected

A team of analysts led by Heather Bellini issued a report to investors with an update on Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s position in the market now that the Moto X has been unveiled. The handset is the first one to come from Motorola after Google bought the company, so it is significant in this way. However, Goldman Sachs analysts say the handset is a little more expensive than they thought it would be.

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The standard 16 GB Moto X sells for $200 with a two-year contract, while the 32 GB sells for $250 with a contract, although only on AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) at launch. Unlocked and developer models are expected to be available later, although those prices haven’t been released yet. The handset will be available through five U.S. carriers and at major retailers.

Google’s Moto X is in line with specs

The analysts said the specs on Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s new handset are about what they expected. As such, they estimate a subsidy of $150 to $200 for the handset. That would give the 16 GB Moto X a $350 ex-factory price. They derived a 39 percent gross margin, compared to Motorola’s overall gross margin of 22 percent during the first quarter of the year.

They note that if the handset is able to capture 50 basis points of the 1.3 billion global smartphone market in the 2014 calendar year, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) would see incremental revenue of $2.3 billion, which would be four points of growth. However, it would be 60 basis points dilutive to the company’s overall gross margin. When counting $500 million in incremental marketing costs in connection with the Moto X launch, they see a 40 basis point operating margin dilution. However, they also see incremental earnings of 92 cents in the 2014 calendar year and $2.07 in earnings per share excluding the extra spending.

Google getting more competitive in hardware?

As such, they think the handset “could improve Google’s bargaining position” compared to Samsung. Because the Moto X had features that were similar to what’s on the market right now but is priced higher than they expected, they see Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) as experiencing a benefit.

However, they think Google’s Motorola strategy is worth watching as it might pose a long term risk for both Apple and the rest of the smartphone industry, particularly as the company said it intends to release a less expensive smartphone later this year.

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