Facebook Shares Hit Record Increases, Beats Estimates

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg holding a pair of the touch controllers for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets on stage during the Facebook F8 conference in San Francisco, California April 12, 2016. Photo: Reuters

THE social networking giant, Facebook, has again beat market expectations for profit and revenue yet again in the latest quarter, pushing up its shares to a record high on Thursday and allowing it to overtake Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc as the fifth biggest U.S. company by market capitalization.

Facebook’s shares rose as much as 4 percent to $128.33, boosting its market value by $14 billion to $367 billion – enough to eclipse Berkshire’s market cap of about $355 billion.

At least 20 brokerages raised target prices on Facebook’s stock, with a median target of $150.

Of 50 analysts covering the stock, 46 have a “buy” or higher rating, 3 have a “hold,” and only one has a “sell.”

Analysts said Facebook’s “video first” strategy would help drive the company’s growth well into the future as more advertisers move money to mobile platforms.

Facebook also has a huge opportunity to monetize its WhatsApp and Messenger services as well as do more with photo-sharing app Instagram and virtual reality unit Oculus.

“While FB could be reaching a saturation point in more developed markets, we believe there several levers to drive rev growth,” Mizuho Securities analyst Neil Doshi said in a note.

These include more videos to increase time spent online and new ad formats, he said, as well as monetizing other services.

Doshi raised his price target to $150 from $140.

Facebook, which now has more than 1.7 billion monthly users, said its ad revenue surged 63 percent in the second quarter, with mobile accounting for 84 percent of the total.

“To give a sense of the scale of Facebook’s beat, its advertising outperformance vs. consensus expectations was almost as large as the total advertising revenue base in the quarter for the industry’s #4 player, Twitter,” Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser said in a client note.

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