Facebook Downgraded to “Underperform” by Stanford Bernstein


Facebook Downgraded to "Underperform" by Stanford Bernstein

The global social networking giant suffered another setback today when a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst raised questions over the company’s growth opportunities and assigned it “underperform” rating. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) shares declined 3.4% to $26.79 after the report was released, which is 29% lower than $38 when the company went public on May 18.

“It is difficult to argue for owning the stock today,” said Carlos Kirjner, an analyst at Bernstein. He raised three important questions about the company’s valuation.

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1. Will Facebook be able to hit its forecast?

2. How much revenue can the social advertising generate?

3. What will be the potential value of the new businesses that are yet to be defined?

Kirjner says that investors may question the company’s ability to achieve revenue targets for 2013, as the near-term growth is decelerating. The long-term decline in revenues can be prevented only if the company maximizes the value of social advertising. Facebook’s advertising income isn’t keeping pace with the growing user base as more and more people access the site through mobile devices. As we noted earlier, Facebook may launch its own mobile phone.

Though Facebook recently launched advertising service for mobile users, it has’t generated good revenues yet. Kirjner estimates the Facebook revenues to be $6.44 billion in 2013.

Another burning issue is the privacy. After going public, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is trying hard to use children to generate revenues. The company is currently developing tools for children under 13-years to use Facebook under parental supervision. This move is likely to raise the privacy concerns.

However, Kirjner wrote that the company does have a strong position because of its ability to target specific users and deliver ads only after authenticating the user’s identities.

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