Facebook Inc (FB) Earnings Preview: Big Things Expected


According to Nanigans, engagement metrics on Facebook (FB) continue to be strong, with click-through rates rising an astounding 197% year over year

Facebook is scheduled to release its next earnings report after closing bell on Wednesday, and several data points suggest that excellent results are on tap. Analysts from most firms remain positive on the social network heading into the print.

Facebook Inc (FB) Earnings Preview: Big Things Expected

Facebook’s engagement metrics continue to rise

The folks at Nanigans shared their fourth quarter Global Facebook Advertising Benchmark Report with ValueWalk this week. They report that engagement metrics on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) continue to be strong, with click-through rates rising an astounding 197% year over year and 22% quarter over quarter.

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They also say cost per click is on the rise, as it has risen 37% year over year and 21% quarter over quarter to 64 cents. Cost per thousand impressions skyrocketed during the quarter as well, climbing 307% compared to the previous year’s fourth quarter and 48% compared to the third quarter. According to Nanigans, holiday spending and a reduction in available space from Facebook’s ongoing shift to bigger ads drove the improvement.

Facebook could post “more meaningful beat”

Separately, in a report dated Jan. 26, Stifel analysts Scott Devitt, John Egbert and Alex Chavdaroff said Facebook looks well-positioned to beat estimates for the December quarter despite headwinds from the strengthening of the U.S. dollar and tough comparisons. They think this time around, the beat could be “more meaningful” than the minor top-line beats in the previous two quarters.

They believe video ads seemed to have ramped up considerably toward the end of the third quarter in the U.S., although internationally, this doesn’t appear to be the case. They say this means the fourth quarter could benefit greatly from being the first full quarter of video ad revenue. Additionally, they think the ramp of video ads was timed well with the launch of the larger iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus because data indicates that users with devices that have larger screens tend to consume more videos.

The Stifel team reports that data similar to what Nanigans reported appears to show the same trends of rising ad spending and price increases. Specifically, they looked at data from Kenshoo and other third-party marketing firms.

What to expect in Facebook’s earnings report

Stifel has a Buy rating and $94 per share price target on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). The firm’s analysts estimate earnings of 49 cents per share for the December quarter.

In another report also dated Jan. 26 Bernstein analysts Carlos Kirjner, Andrea Rosso and Ben Betcher said they’re estimating revenue of $3.6 billion for the quarter, which is lower than consensus estimates due to foreign exchange headwinds. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) management guided for a 40% to 47% increase in revenues, compared to their estimate of a 41% increase. They’re expecting EBITDA of $53 million for the December quarter.

Like the Stifel team, the Bernstein analysts also see room for an upside surprise. However, they cited better targeting and rising adoption of Facebook’s “more sophisticated” ad products like Custom Audiences and Look-alike Audiences. They don’t think adoption of Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) new ad formats is happening any faster than it did in the previous year’s fourth quarter, however.

In terms of possible catalysts, Kirjner and team said Instagram ads and revenues could push Facebook shares higher. However, they think the ramp-up may be “considerably slower” than the ramp of News Feed ads and what most on Wall Street expect. Bernstein has a Market-Perform rating and $72 per share price target on Facebook.

As of this writing, shares of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) were down 1.8% to $76.10 per share.

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