Media

Why More Than 10 Analysts Are Chasing Facebook Shares Even Higher

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) won on earnings through explosive mobile usage, and as a result the stock is cruising near all-time highs. Just looking around these days, it is evident that most people use their smartphones for social media, whether it’s posting pictures of their lunch to Instagram or hitting up Facebook Messenger at a red light. Facebook has a secure grasp on the market.

The obsession is very real, especially on the mobile platform. Analysts have seen evidence of this and are raising their ratings and targets to new highs, reflecting not only the strong earnings from this quarter but also the equally strong outlook as well.

Facebook reported that revenue was $4.501 billion, up from $3.203 billion last year and above the $4.37 billion consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters. The adjusted earnings per share (EPS) was $0.57, versus $0.43 a year ago and the consensus estimate of $0.52.

Of the $4.501 billion in revenues, some $4.299 billion was in advertising, up 45%. Facebook’s total costs and expenses rose by 68% to $3.042 billion. Excluding the impact of year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates, the company showed that total revenue would have increased by 51%.

The metrics that matter here were as follows:

  • Daily active users (DAUs) were 1.01 billion on average for September 2015, up 17%.
  • Mobile DAUs were 894 million, up 27% year over year.
  • Monthly active users (MAUs) were 1.55 billion, up 14%.
  • Mobile MAUs were 1.39 billion, up 23%.

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What is shocking about these statistics is that with a global population of roughly 7.4 billion, DAUs total 13.6% and MAUs total nearly 21% of the entire global population. Considering this global exposure, Facebook is easily the largest media stock out there, with a market cap of over $300 billion. The next largest media stock would be Disney with a market cap of roughly $190 billion.

Making such a monumental move to new highs, Facebook is drawing analyst calls like moths to a flame. While most firms have Buy or Outperform ratings, many price targets were hiked:

  • Merrill Lynch has a Buy rating and increased its price objective to $125 from $115.
  • BMO Capital Markets raised its price target to $105 from $94.
  • Stifel Nicolaus has a Buy rating and raised its price target to $120 from $108.
  • RBC Capital has an Outperform rating and raised its price target to $130 from $105.
  • Morgan Stanley has an Overweight rating and raised its target to $120 from $110.
  • Credit Suisse has an Outperform rating and raised its target to $135 from $115.
  • Barclays has an Overweight rating and raised its target to $140 from $105.
  • FBR has an Outperform rating and raised its price target to $125 from $118.
  • Pivotal Research has a Buy rating and raised its price target to $134 from $127.
  • Nomura reiterated a Buy rating with a $115 price target.

Shares of Facebook were recently trading up nearly 6% at $110.06, after hitting a new all-time high. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $112.73 and a 52-week trading range of $72.00 to $110.65.

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