On Tuesday, Google announced that Morgan Stanley CFO Ruth Porat would join the company in the same capacity.
And so in what is sort of an awkward scenario, Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne, who covers Google, chimed in what the departure of its own firm’s CFO means (for Google, not Morgan Stanley).
Ruth Porat’s background as CFO and former technology banker make her a strong fit for the Google CFO. In addition, it’s worth noting that her focus with investors and analysts while at Morgan Stanley was on setting clear targets and providing transparency into the key areas of interest. She also has extensive experience in dealing with regulatory issues. In the context of Google, where there is a clamoring for 1) greater visibility into spending plan, 2) greater transparency into revenue trends, and 3) a change in capital allocation given $US74bn in net cash — Ms. Porat’s background will only raise the level of expectations for change.
Now, in this note, Morgan Stanley’s analysts don’t make any mention on what this move means for Morgan Stanley. Which may come as a surprise to some people who might think: “But wait, they both work at Morgan Stanley! Don’t they have some insight into what this move means for the company?”
In fact, no, and why would they? They are tech analysts, not banking analysts. Moreover, Morgan Stanley is a massive operation — the company had 55,800 global employees at the end of 2014 — and so while serving as an analyst covering Google is a major responsibility at the firm, it’s likely that an analyst will never meet the bank’s CFO.
(Additionally, banks also have dedicated banking analysts that cover other banks, which can lead to somewhat awkward notes like one written by analysts at Goldman Sachs earlier this year which speculated that JPMorgan could break itself to bolster is share price.)
As for what the move means for Google, Morgan Stanley added: “While we are encouraged by Ruth’s hire, we wait and see if tangible change will come.”
Morgan Stanley maintained its “Equal-Weight” rating on shares of Google.