FB : NASDAQ : US$48.45
INITIATING COVERAGE WITH BUY; EARLY STAGES OF MONETIZING THE USER BASE
We initiate coverage of Facebook with a BUY recommendation and $60 price target. Despite the stock price’s recent doubling, we believe the company is very early in generating revenue from its enormous user base.
While the path higher may not be linear, we expect Facebook’s reach, robust network effects, vast self-disclosed user data, and product innovation will increasingly make it a high-priority target destination for many marketers.
While the US is close to saturation, Facebook’s global penetration currently stands at only ~20% and we believe there is still room for user growth. Facebook already has nearly 1.2 billion monthly users, but we believe the user base can grow by roughly one-third by 2015.
In light of the continuous user shift to mobile consumption, Facebook mobile monetization has become vital. We believe that Q2/13 was a turning point in the company’s mobile monetization. While some categories of mobile ad spend may be volatile (app downloads), we believe Facebook’s sponsored stories product is at last compelling brand advertisers to commit more spend to mobile.
We believe Facebook is early in innovating both for ad and user products. We expect the long-anticipated video ad product and forthcoming Instagram monetization could lend upside to our outlook. In addition, new features such as real-time social metering and more ties to consumer media and entertainment could put the user base on a steeper engagement curve.
Our $60 price target is based on 45x our 2015 EPS estimate of $1.33.
Competitive platforms might impact usage. Individuals may opt out of “sharing overload” over time. Higher ad loads could impact user satisfaction. Dual share class structure with the CEO controlling 53% of voting rights.