Facebook Inc (FB) stock continues to hover around its all-time highs, and as a result, some investors might not be willing to buy shares now, preferring instead to wait for a possible pullback. However, one analyst is recommending an options play for Facebook Inc (FB) stock bulls who hesitate to buy shares at such high prices. Others are trying to reassure investors that the shares are sure to go higher and that they’re not expensive after all.
An options play for Facebook Inc (FB) stock
In a research note dated March 9, Susquehanna analyst Christopher Jacobson suggests the September 140/170 call spread on Facebook Inc (FB) stock. His colleague Shyam Patil recently boosted his price target for the shares by $20 to $180. That’s despite the near 20% increase in the stock on the year, compared to the S&P’s 6% gain and the NASDAQ 100’s 10% increase in the same time frame.
Jacobson now reports that volatility in Facebook Inc (FB) options has declined recently, presenting an opportunity for options plays. The 90-day implied volatility is down to 23%, the fourth percentile on a two-year basis, according to the analyst. He notes that the low volatility paired with the bullish stance on Facebook Inc (FB) stock would usually suggest a long call recommendation, but the call spread is designed to cut the cost of exposure because of the stock’s position near its record high.
He adds that Facebook Inc (FB) options have a negative skew, so the downside puts are trading at a volatility premium compared to the upside calls. Despite this, he said the skew is toward the “lower end of two-year levels.”
Facebook Inc (FB) stock heading to $200 eventually
William Blair analyst Ralph Schackart has an even more bullish call on Facebook Inc (FB) stock, as he said in his note dated March 8 that the shares could surpass the $200 level based on the valuation framework he published in January 2016.
Even at the current highs, he doesn’t feel that Facebook Inc (FB) stock is expensive. He notes that $137.30 gives the shares a multiple of approximately 12.5 times the 2018 consensus adjusted EBITDA estimate with a 4% free cash flow yield. However, that’s below the two-year average multiple, which is about 15 times the EBITDA consensus. So in the near term, he sees upside to about $160 to $165 per share based on that multiple of 15 times.
The analyst also met with some ad executives who buy space on digital ad platforms and found that social media budgets and ad spend on Facebook Inc (FB) are both expected to grow again this year, with some estimates pointing to about a 20% to 35% year over year increase. Meanwhile, budget allocations to Twitter are expected to fall by 20% to 30%, with that spend moving partially to Facebook Inc (FB).
Shares of Facebook Inc (FB) stock edged lower by as much as 0.03% to $137.67 during regular trading hours on Wednesday.