Facebook Inc (FB) Stock Little Affected by Price Target Increase

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Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) stock continues to be a Wall Street darling as it received yet another price target increase on Monday. This time it comes from Citi analyst Mark May, who believes that the concerns about decelerating ad loads are overblown and that worries about Snapchat taking a bite out of Facebook are unfounded. His price target follows another positive report from Nomura last week.

Meanwhile executives continue to unload shares of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) stock as the shares move higher.

Facebook (FB) stock price target to $158

Citi analyst Mark May increased his price target on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) stock by $10 to $158 per share in a report dated September 18. He believes that it “feels like it is still early days” for the social network. However, he adds that over the last few months, investor sentiment has shifted toward the negative end of the spectrum. In order to analyze this shift, he applied his own stress test to the company. Specifically, he looked at the concerns about the potential slowdown in growth of the ad load and the threat Snapchat might pose.

May believes that concerns about the impact of the expected deceleration in ad load growth on Facebook’s core ad revenue are overblown. He explained that current forecasts imply an increase of 3% to 4% or 30 basis points on ad load growth in 2017 and 2018, which he views as reasonable.

He views the concerns about Snapchat are unfounded based on his analysis of third-party and company-reported data. He noted that the amount of time the average user of the core Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) platform continues to grow and doesn’t appear to be impacted by Snapchat. The analyst cited Sensor Tower data, which was used by Nomura to prove the same point last week.

He added that there looks to be an upside basis to consensus because the forecasts imply conservative growth expectations in areas such as ad load and cost per thousand impressions. Further, he doesn’t believe current estimates include any contributions from WhatsApp or Messenger, which are already at scale, or any possible new opportunities like longer-form video or e-commerce and payments.

Profit-taking on Facebook (FB) stock

As analysts continue to push Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) stock, executives at the social network continue to unload shares. Among those who have sold shares of the company This month are CEO Mark Zuckerberg, General Counsel Colin Stretch, Director Jan Koum and Chief Product Officer Christopher Cox. Zuckerberg has sold more than $300 million worth of Facebook stock over the last month.

Regulatory filings also show that Westwood Management recently sold 600 shares of Facebook stock, although it remains the firm’s largest position at 10% of its portfolio. Also Swedbank unloaded about 193,000 shares but still held more than 2.57 million shares. Facebook makes up 2.5% of the firm’s portfolio and is its 15th biggest position.

Shares of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) edged downward by as much as 0.17% to $128.85 during regular trading hours on Monday.

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