Analysts Weigh In on Social Media Giants: Twitter Inc (TWTR), Facebook Inc (FB)

Analysts from FBR and SunTrust weighed in on social media giants Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) post staff changes and pre-Q4 earnings, respectively. While one analyst remains bullish on Twitter though cuts his price target due the sudden departure of 4 key executives, the other remains bullish on Facebook, citing growth drivers.

Twitter Inc

Last night, it was reported that 4 of Twitter’s key executives departed the company, with rumors that they were terminated. Following these rumors, founder Jack Dorsey took to Twitter to clarify. He stated that head of engineering Alex Roetter and product head Kevin Weil, as well as Brian “Skip” Schipper, head of HR, and head of media Katie Stanton “have chosen to leave the company.” Dorsey had only good things to say about these 4 executives, stating he was “grateful to each of them for everything they’ve contributed to Twitter.” Within two hours on late Sunday night, each executive tweeted their departure with only positive sentiment.

As a result of these departures, shares of TWTR fell over 4% in pre-market trading. Following the announcement, analyst Robert Peck of SunTrust weighed in on the company, maintaining his Buy rating though slashing his price target to $26 from $34. The analyst believes these departures reflect near term concerns, specifically with product and media, though still remains bullish on the stock. He states, “While we never like to see executive turnover and one could infer that there are product and media concerns in the ST, we continue to think that LT Twitter presents an interesting opportunity for investors.” In a similar move, Stifel Nicolaus analyst Scott Devitt downgraded the stock to Hold from Buy and removed his price target of $34.

According to TipRanks’ statistics, out of the 29 analysts who have rated the company in the last 3 months, 10 gave a Buy rating, 2 gave a Sell rating, and 17 remain on the sidelines. The average 12-month price target for the stock is $30.89, marking a 73% upside from where shares last closed.

Facebook Inc

Analyst William Bird of FBR & Co. weighed in on Facebook today pre-earnings, set to release on Wednesday, January 27 after market close. The analyst is bullish on the general position of the company, believing “Facebook offers scarce large-cap media growth and attractive structural exposure” by generating ad revenue through “digital precision brand advertising.” He also expresses bullish sentiment on mobile ads and innovation, believing the company “is uniquely positioned to grow its share of the high-growth mobile ad market.”

The analyst is especially bullish regarding Instagram, citing growth in both users and ARPU and predicted revenues of $5 billion from current users. He’s also upbeat on WhatsApp and Messenger monetization as well as virtual reality. Bird comments on Facebooks recent initiatives in new technologies, which should enable the company “to advance the experience of its users and the objectives of its advertisers.” The analyst believes that going into 2016, investors will be focusing on Instagram, video ads, and its virtual reality platform Oculus, set to release in March.

The analyst reiterates his Outperform rating on the company with a $125 price target. He states, “We believe the setup into the quarter is constructive and see continued headroom for growth supported by structural drivers. We view FB as a play on mobile advertising, pricing, and additional platform commercialization opportunities.”

According to TipRanks’ statistics, out of the 36 analysts who have rated the company in the last 3 months, 34 gave a Buy rating, 1 gave a Sell rating, and 1 remains on the sidelines. The average 12-month price target for the stock is $123.42, marking a 26% upside from where shares last closed.



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