Facebook may have disappointed investors with its latest earnings report, but analysts are becoming even more bullish on the social network. Nearly every major firm under the sun has upped its price target on the company’s stock after the report, although shares of Facebook traded lower again on Friday, down as much as 0.66% at $94.59 per share after closing at around $95.22 per share on Thursday.
Facebook (FB) records strong per-user metrics
A glance at the many buy-side reports on Facebook reveals analysts pretty much singing the same tune: what’s not to like about the company’s second quarter earnings report? The social network reported adjusted earnings of 50 cents per share on $4.04 billion in revenue.
Engagement metrics are extremely important, and more than one firm noted the continued improvements. For example, the average Facebook user now spends over 46 minutes per day using Facebook, Messenger and Instagram in some combination.
Facebook accounts for 20% of U.S. smartphone time and 5% of total media time, including TV. Jefferies analyst Brian Pitz and his team especially like the improvement in daily active users, which rose to 65% of the total 1.5 billion monthly active users. They upped their price target for Facebook from $105 to $120 per share.
Ad dollars per user is also accelerating with average revenue per user growth of 39% year over year, an acceleration of 300 basis points, notes Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak and his team.
Facebook (FB) tightens capex guidance
One concern about Facebook which Wall Street has had since the last earnings call was capital expenditures. Management warned that they would be significantly increasing the company’s expenditures this year, suggesting that it would go the way of Amazon and Google in terms of dramatic spending.
However, Facebook tightened its guidance for expenses this year to an increase of 50% to 55%, compared to the previous guidance of between 50% and 60%. The Jefferies team thinks Facebook’s operating expenditures are “front-end loaded” as they think it makes most of its investments before the holiday season.
Contrary to Jefferies analysts, Stifel’s Sanjiv Wadhwani and his team expect the second half of the year to be heavy with capital expenditures. More specifically, they’re expecting a 62% increase in capex for the last six months of the year compared to the first six months.They noted that the guidance implies $549 million in capex, a 17% increase that’s lower than the consensus estimate of around $703 million.
Still some concerns about Facebook (FB)
Macquarie Research analyst Ben Schacter and his team actually didn’t increase their price target for Facebook, but they did maintain their Outperform rating. Their price target is at $106 per share, which was already pretty much in line with where other firms raised their targets to following this week’s earnings report.
They expressed some concerns about the results. For example, management commented that revenue growth is slowing, although at this stage of the game, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Barclays analyst Paul Vogel thinks investors are too focused on the expectation of slowing revenue growth, mainly because they think currency headwinds are still a big part of the revenue numbers. The Morgan Stanley team also emphasized that Facebook’s business is stable when looking at it on a constant currency basis.
Also we’re still in the early stages of Instagram monetization, which the Macquarie team expects to take some time to ramp. Further, they said Facebook’s guidance for payments revenue was not as strong as they would like. Raymond James analysts were also disappointed with this metric, noting the 19% reduction in payments revenue related to desktop games.
It should also be noted that management did not give any indications about where new monetization drivers might come from in the second half of this year.
Gazing into Facebook’s (FB) future
Looking forward, the Macquarie team expects “big surprise beats” in Facebook’s core ad business just as it has in the past. They also like the many opportunities available to the social network. They mentioned video and Instagram ads, just as other firms did. On the topic of video, they’re actually expecting a YouTube competitor from Facebook, which is interesting as we haven’t heard this suggestion all that much elsewhere. They also see opportunities in Oculus VR, which the social network acquired last year, and in search.
Additionally, they like how Facebook is evolving into a suite of apps, making comments similar to those made by the Jefferies team on this topic, and called user growth in Messenger and WhatsApp “astonishing.” They seem to think this week’s sell-off mostly came from short-term investors but expect good things for long-term investors who stick with it.
Other price target increases for Facebook (FB)
In addition to the price target increases listed above, Goldman Sachs analyst Heather Bellini and her team raised their target from $102 to $110 per share. Also Raymond James bumped up its target from $110 to $115 per share, and Barclays analysts raised their target from $98 to $105.
Deutsche Bank analysts upped their target from $100 to $115, while Canaccord Genuity analysts upped their target from $90 to $115 and Citigroup raised its target from $97 to $112 a share. Credit Suisse analysts raised their target from $106 to $110 per share.
Like Macquarie analysts, Wells Fargo Securities analyst Peter Stabler and his team were also in the minority of firms that didn’t change their price targets for Facebook. Their range remains $115 to $120, which again was already in line with targets from other firms. Morgan Stanley analysts also left their price target on Facebook at $110 per share, while Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts left their price objective at $105 a share.
Pacific Crest analysts Evan Wilson and Tyler Parker are among the few who rate Facebook at Sector Weight, which is the equivalent of a Neutral rating. One reason for this is because the social network’s multiple is unlikely to expand “given the sad state” of its peers. Another is that they think consensus estimates are already assuming that Facebook sees “massive” gains in market share.