Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) stock has been on a short-term tear over the last month or so, rising more than 8% in this time, and it’s up by about 25% over the last 12 months. However, the social network is entering a period of more difficult comparisons, so momentum investors could receive a shock.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is set to release its second quarter report on Wednesday after closing bell. Expectations are running high, but some analysts still believe the social network can beat them.
Engagement, monetization driving FB stock
Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak and team believe that the two biggest trends driving Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) stock these days are engagement and monetization. He noted that the shares have only increased 2% since May and that some investors are concerned that Snapchat is taking a bite out of engagement on Facebook. He disagrees with this view, however, as his analysis of comScore data indicates that the social network is seeing strong daily active user growth in the 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 age groups.
Data on the age groups using Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been a focus for years amid the debate about whether teens have been abandoning the social network.
Additionally, Facebook’s total U.S. mobile user base is growing well. Nowak said the ratio of daily to monthly active users rose about 400 basis points in the second quarter, marking the biggest increase since the first quarter of last year.
His team discovered an 80% correlation between the change in this ratio and these data points, which he said addresses the concerns about a weak daily active user number for the second quarter with an inflection in engagement.
Other sources also indicate that engagement and monetization on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) remains strong. For example, Susquehanna analyst Shyam Patil and team report that core spending on the social network, excluding Instagram, increased by the low 20% to high 50% range during the second quarter. However, they add that most of Wall Street expects stable to modestly accelerating monetization trends with a little upside to internal forecasts.
Instagram ramp continues
The Susquehanna team also found a continuation in the ramp of Instagram monetization, adding that it seems largely incremental to ad spend on the core Facebook. They estimate that Instagram made up between 5% and 15% of ad budgets during the second quarter, compared to less than 5% in the third quarter of last year.
Commentary on Instagram spend seems to depend on which vertical a particular advertiser in and what their agency’s objectives are, they added. However, they said the checks of companies “with a reasonable amount of exposure” to Instagram have indicated that their spend was up by 10% to 50% quarter over quarter, with the size of the second quarter performance depending on first quarter seasonality. Further, Patil and team said one major mobile-only ad agency reported an 90% to 90% increase in Instagram spend from the third quarter of last year to the second quarter of this year.
The Susquehanna team added that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Messenger appears to be “more of a 2017 opportunity” although they had previously indicated that it could be a wildcard for the fourth quarter.
Will Facebook stock hit a snag in H2?
The Instagram ramp alone could be enough to keep investors happy in the second half of this year despite the difficult year over year comparisons for the core Facebook platform. Jim Cramer of CNBC and The Street reported that his Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio unloaded some of its Facebook stock. However, he and his research director, Jack Mohr, added that they didn’t sell the shares because they’re losing confidence. Instead, it was an act of profit-taking, rather than succumbing to “sheer greed.”
Wall Street expects the social network to post $6 billion in revenue and 81 cents per share in adjusted earnings for the second quarter. Shares of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) stock slipped by as much as 0.26% to $120.68 during regular trading hours on Monday.