When Morgan Stanley's (NYSE: MS) veteran Internet analyst Mary Meeker estimated that overlay ads on YouTube could immediately add $4.8 billion in gross revenue and $720 million in net revenue to Google's Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), her one-time competitor Henry Blodget was puzzled.
Her figures were dramatically bigger than his estimate of $12 million to $360 million of gross revenue. As Blodget discusses in his Silcon Alley Insider blog, Meeker made a huge mathematical blunder. She didn't calculate her estimates using cost per thousands (CPM), the common measurement used in selling advertising. She just forgot to divide by a thousand. So instead of $4.8 billion, Meeker really meant to say $4.8 million and $720 million becomes $720,000.
These ads are insignificant to Google's bottom line.
Blodget, who is turning out to be more honest as a blogger than he was as an analyst, clearly is delighting in jabbing the Internet Queen Meeker. It's odd that no one on her team caught this mistake before it was published.
Investors need to remember that analysts often are wrong. When they guess too low, as Wall Street often has with Google, it's called an "upside surprise" and when they guess too high it's called a "disappointment." This is a game that Blodget knows very well.