Why Analysts See Clear Skies Ahead for Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) was another big earnings winner, after posting its most recent quarterly results late on Wednesday. Much like with Microsoft, analysts rallied to this stock in the wake of the report, one-upping each other in calling for even more impressive gains in 2019.

24/7 Wall St. has included some highlights from the earnings report, as well as what analysts are saying about Facebook after the fact.

The social media giant said that it had $0.85 in earnings per share (EPS) and $15.08 billion in revenue, compared with consensus estimates of $1.63 in EPS and revenue of $14.97 billion. The same period of last year reportedly had EPS of $1.69 on $11.97 billion in revenue.

During the quarter, daily active users were 1.56 billion on average, an increase of 8% year over year. At the same time, monthly active users increased by 8% to 2.38 billion.

Mobile advertising revenue represented roughly 93% of advertising revenue for the first quarter of 2019, up from about 91% of advertising revenue in the same period last year.

Additionally, management estimates that more than 2.1 billion people now use Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger every day on average, and around 2.7 billion people use at least one of this family of services each month.

Merrill Lynch reiterated its Buy rating and raised its prior $187 price objective to $224. The firm noted that overall revenues decelerated less than expected and expenses were well below, suggesting that Facebook has guided 2019 conservatively and has a very discretionary expense base. As a result, the firm also raised revenue expectations and lifted its 2020 earnings estimate 9% to $9.52 per share, and it remains optimistic on stories growth.

A few other analysts jumped in as well:

  • UBS upgraded Facebook to a Buy rating from Neutral with a $240 price target.
  • Barclays reiterated an Overweight rating and raised its price target from $210 to $240.
  • Deutsche Bank reiterated a Buy rating and raised its price target to $220 from $205.
  • Canaccord Genuity reiterated a Buy rating and raised its target price to $225 from $200.
  • RBC reiterated an Outperform rating and raised its price target to $250 from $200.
  • Morgan Stanley reiterated it as Overweight and raised its price target to $210 from $195.
  • KeyBanc Capital Markets reiterated its Overweight rating and raised its target from $195 to $220.

Shares of Facebook were last seen up about 6% at $193.04, in a 52-week range of $123.02 to $218.62. It had a prior consensus target price of $197.14.