Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has plenty of opportunities for revenue growth, according to analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald. They see great things in the social network’s future—through the short, medium and long term. In a report dated May 20, 2014, analysts Youssef Squali, Naved Khan and Kip Paulson listed a handful of reasons why they still rate Facebook as a Buy with a target price of $80 per share.
Facebook progresses in mobile
First, they note that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has grown its mobile revenue from 0% of its total revenue in the first quarter of 2012 to 59% of it in the first quarter of this year. They say the introduction of news feed ads and then pricing and volume growth were the drivers of that increase in mobile revenue.
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The Cantor Fitzgerald team thinks this trend is one that will continue, especially as Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) rolls out the Facebook Audience Network, which is currently in beta. The social network is also working on auto-play video ads. They note that the Facebook Audience Network is still “playing catch-up” to similar features from competitors, like Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Ad Mob and Millennial Media.
However, they think Facebook’s “first-party data treasure trove” will help it improve targetability even more than the social network already has. They say the result will be increased interest in the platform from advertisers.
Video ads offer bigger opportunities for Facebook
The analysts say premium video ads may offer Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) its “greatest lever of growth.” The social network announced auto-play ads in March and then launched them late in April. The ads land in news feeds and begin playing 15-second clips automatically.
The Cantor Fitzgerald team estimates that these ads could generate more than $1 billion in revenue for Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) “within a few years.” They say the social network is “being very deliberate” with how it has rolled out these ads. It has been limiting how many advertisers can purchase the ads and also watching the quality of the ads before putting them in news feeds. So far, reports suggest Facebook is raking in between $1 million and $2.5 million a day on those ads alone.
Facebook prepares to monetize Instagram, WhatsApp
They note that currently Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is focused more on growing users and engagement on Instagram, which currently has 200 million monthly active users. However, they say management is starting to ramp up efforts for monetization. They say if the social network is able to see $4 in average revenue per monthly active user per year, that would make Instagram generate between $800 million and $1 billion in revenue per year. The price of $4 per user per year is about half of Facebook’s current level and right in line with what Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) makes right now.
In addition, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is working on ways to monetize WhatsApp, which the Cantor Fitzgerald analysts believe is a multi-billion dollar opportunity. The messaging app passed 500 million users last month and aims to hit more than 1 billion users before starting to pursue monetization more aggressively. The analysts say because of the high-value proposition offered by WhatsApp and the “communication nature” of it, it’s easy to see just how valuable it is.
They note that right now, WhatsApp charges 99 cents per year for new members after giving them one year free. This implies that the app could generate $500 million per year in revenue if all members start paying for it with about a 100% incremental margin. They see opportunities for more revenue from the addition of voice-based messaging a well in the future.