It is almost time for a third-quarter earnings party, and top analyst Brian Fitzgerald at Jefferies is out singing the praises of three tech giants in his coverage universe: Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN).
Fitzgerald sees Facebook as the advertising company with a strong mobile business that he believes “looks best positioned in 3Q.” Mobile alone, the analyst anticipates “very strong results” for Facebook. As far as the eCommerce sector is concerned, from Fitzgerald’s eyes, Amazon is modeled for a beat and remains his “top large-cap e-Commerce pick,” as the company persists in capturing market share. Shifting over to the Twitter-verse, the analyst believes the company is at the center of a “turnaround,” which makes him that much more interested to see if third-quarter results reveal a renewed focus on Twitter’s key drivers. Let’s dive in:
Brian Fitzgerald has a very good TipRanks score with a 71% success rate and he stands at #59 out of 4,180 on the analyst leaderboard. Fitzgerald garners 22.2% in his annual returns. When recommending FB, Fitzgerald earns realizes 15.9% in average profits on the stock. However, when suggesting TWTR, Fitzgerald loses 35.1% in average profits on the stock. When recommending AMZN, Fitzgerald yields 23.9% in average profits on the stock.
As far as Fitzgerald sees the situation, he has every reason to remain bullish on Facebook, particularly with regards to Instagram, “which continues to look like a picture-perfect ad platform to us. Now open to all advertisers, Instagram monetization should ramp quickly.”
As such, with expectations for great earnings, the analyst reiterates a Buy rating on FB with a $170 price target, which represents a nearly 31% increase from where the stock is currently trading.
The social media titan is set to deliver third-quarter results on November 2nd. Fitzgerald models revenue of $6.86 billion and EPS of $0.67, which are slightly more conservative than the Street at $6.90 billion and $0.71 billion. For the quarter, Fitzgerald estimates FB will bring in mobile ad revenue of $5.66 billion, also falling slightly under the Street’s $5.72 billion. Despite the analyst’s below-consensus projections, “overall we see upside […] both on the top line and especially the bottom line.”
Fitzgerald underscores the importance of video to the titan, explaining, “Zuckerberg says we are at the beginning of the golden age of online video. Users can now broadcast videos directly through FB’s Live video service. Live videos see 10x more comments vs. regular videos, and TV stars are generating larger audiences on Live vs. their TV shows. This is important as FB attempts to increase the amount of original content shared across its platform.”
Though Facebook encountered negatively publicity in September for overstating video viewership, the analyst believes this is now a “non-issue” and ultimately will not affect at all how much marketers will choose to invest in the company.
In FB’s second quarter alone, the company saw a close to $1 billion increase in mobile ad business growth for quarter-over-quarter, which is “an astounding figure.” Considering “on mobile alone,” Facebook coupled with Instagram boast aggregate new revenue on par with Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and all of its global businesses, Fitzgerald assesses FB to be in a stellar position moving forward.
TipRanks analytics exhibit FB as a Strong Buy. Based on 36 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 31 rate a Buy on FB, while 5 maintain a Hold. The 12-month price target stands at $156.60, marking a 20% upside from where the shares last closed.
Twitter is expected to post its third-quarter print on October 27th. Fitzgerald asserts, “We expect the fundamentals to remain intact as the turnaround in engagement continues.”
As such, ahead of earnings, the analyst reiterates a Buy rating on TWTR with a price target of $23, which represents a 36% increase from where the shares last closed.
For the quarter, Fitzgerald expects revenue of $608MM and adjusted EBITDA of $146MM, slightly above the Street’s estimates of $604MM and $149MM, respectively. Both the analyst and consensus are predicting expectations ahead of Twitter management’s guidance at the mid-point of $600MM in earnings and $143MM in adjusted EBITDA. For monthly average users (MAUs), Fitzgerald is modeling a 3% year-over-year increase to 316MM, which mirrors the Street.
The analyst believes, “With much of the acquisition chatter quieting down, a focus will return to fundamental drivers of the business. Twitter is in the midst of a turnaround in user engagement and the third quarter earnings will begin to show if the focus on live video streaming has made an impact. MAUs have remained stable ~310MM globally since the beginning of ’16. Our estimates have this number remaining relatively flat Q/Q with some acceleration beginning in 4Q.”
The analyst contends the social networking giant is making waves in maximizing its strengths, opining, “Twitter remains the leading platform to share real-time news and discussion. The difficulty has been presenting that to users in an easily digestible way. With @Jack’s return, product introductions have focused on presenting the most relevant content to each user to increase engagement.”
Thus far, Twitter Live streaming has performed “well,” between NFL game nights, a Presidential debate, and various NCAA football games. Additionally, Fitzgerald commends TWTR for a savvy partnership with Buzzfeed to infuse election night coverage with a live element of engagement.
TipRanks analytics demonstrate TWTR as a Hold. Based on 34 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 5 rate a Buy on TWTR, 22 maintain a Hold, while 7 issue a Sell. The consensus price target stands at $17.50, marking a nearly 4% upside from where the stock is currently trading.
As Amazon prepares to release third-quarter earnings on October 27th, Fitzgerald is looking for “a beat quarter on solid top-line growth” coupled with “continuing market share gains.”
Therefore, with his eyes on the quarterly print ahead, Fitzgerald reiterates a Buy rating on shares of AMZN with a $950 price target, which represents a 17% increase from current levels.
Fitzgerald estimates net revenue at a 30% year-over-year increase of $33.0 billion, slightly over the Street at $32.7 billion and towards the high point of guidance of $31.0 to $33.5 billion. The analyst forecasts GAAP operating income of $952MM, significantly ahead of consensus expectations of $675MM and guidance range of $50 to $650MM. Additionally, Fitzgerald models pro-forma operating income (CSOI) of $1.76 billion, topping the Street at $1.46 billion. Moreover, the analyst’s GAAP EPS projection of $1.04 hits above the Street’s $0.78.
The analyst continues to find reason to believe his “thesis that Amazon continues growing roughly 2x faster than overall eCommerce and ~10x faster than overall retail.”
While Fitzgerald recognizes operating expenses (OpEx) and margins as continuous “major unknowns,” the analyst does not anticipate this quarter will bring about “a negative surprise.”
Furthermore, Fitzerald praises the online streaming giant for its growth prospects and clear results, pointing out, “While management keeps investing in various growth opportunities (fulfillment, AWS, India), we are beginning to see increasing signs of leverage in the model, accentuated by growing scale. Also, we do not believe the anticipated spending cycle will be as severe or as prolonged as previous ones.”
“Despite increasing competitive pressures, AWS remains a key revenue growth driver too. […] We believe these trends will continue as Amazon remains a primary beneficiary of the secular growth in eCommerce but we are keeping an eye on spending which tends to ramp up in Q3 / early Q4 in preparation for the holiday season,” Fitzgerald concludes.
TipRanks analytics indicate AMZN as a Strong Buy. Based on 34 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 33 rate a Buy on AMZN, while 1 maintains a Hold. The 12-month price target stands at $932.88, marking a 15% upside from where the shares last closed.