Facebook’s Instagram Direct Keeps It Competitive

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) subsidiary Instagram has launched a new feature called Instagram Direct. Goldman Sachs analyst Heather Bellini and her team see this as a positive, saying that it will help Facebook stay competitive in a market where companies keep adding features right and left.

Facebook's Instagram Direct Keeps It Competitive

What Instagram Direct does

The new feature enables Instagram users to send photos or videos only to a specific group of 15 or fewer people. The photos or video come through in a sort of format which looks like group chat. The feature makes it possible for Instagram users to interact with a group they select by hand while keeping what they share private from their broader follower base.

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Instagram suggested that the feature could be used as a sort of “inside joke between friends captured on the go, a special family moment or even just one more photo of your new puppy.”

Implications for Facebook

Bellini and her team said Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) appears to be focused on offering an experience that is even more unique and differentiated from the experience on other social networks. They said by being able to manually choose targeted viewers has been associated with Snapchat—Instagram’s biggest competitor—for quite some time.

Because of this, the analyst team thinks that Instagram wants to stay competitive while growing its user base, which currently has about 150 million people.

Remaining Buy-rated on Facebook

They reiterated their Buy rating and $61 per share price target for Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB). The Goldman Sachs team said they continue seeing “powerful new product cycles” through Facebook’s video advertisements, Instagram and graph search. In addition, they believe Facebook’s return on investment is still impressing advertisers, thus bringing more dollars from offline advertising into online advertising.

The analysts said that at around $52 a share, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is trading at 60 times their non-GAAP earnings per share projections for the 2013 calendar year and 43 times their 2014 estimate. They’re expecting the social network to deliver earnings per share of 86 cents for the current calendar year and $1.21 per share for the 2014 calendar year.