Facebook (FB), the EU, and the Regulation Variable; GBH Insights Sizes Up the Latest Data Privacy ‘Game Changer’

GBH Insights' Daniel Ives believes all damage to the image of FB's platform has been "very contained" even amid its most challenging chapter.

As Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg ventures to Brussels to meet with the European Union (EU) Parliament and its Conference of Presidents regarding one key buzz word – privacy – GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives offers his confidence insights on the social media titan.

The company’s main intent in its meeting today is to dive into the Cambridge Analytica data fiasco and a slew of additional privacy matters down the line. Regulation has been a main topic flying through the Street, especially with The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) primed to kickstart in three days, putting data protection and privacy front row and center. With this in mind, Zuckerberg’s timing for standing before the EU is crucial, notes Ives, especially as Facebook crosses a rocky path in the wake of Cambridge. So far, this new territory seems to “be very containable in terms of negatively impacting user engagement on the platform and advertising related softness,” explains the analyst.

Ives asserts, “With Zuckerberg passing his grilling in the Beltway with flying colors last month in our opinion, this time around with the EU we expect a much tougher line of questioning and a heavy focus on privacy related issues which are at center stage with Cambridge exposing a host of privacy/data content issues related to the Facebook platform. […] we expect a major focus during the hearings on complying with this game changing data privacy regulation and steps Facebook is taking going forward to guard against another Cambridge like situation and detailing its data content guardrails moving ahead. The Street has stepped away from the edge of the cliff over the last month on Facebook as the combination of stronger than expected March results, an impressive performance by Zuckerberg in DC, and the fears of regulation starting to fade in the background have been catalysts for a major rebound in shares.”

Even with a “defining” period ahead for the tech leader with a regulation question mark hanging over all social media players, the analyst reiterates an Attractive Rating on FB stock with a $225 price target, which implies a close to 22% upside from current levels. (To watch Ives’ track record, click here)

TipRanks reveals confidence runs strong through the Street on Facebook’s social media empire. Out of 32 analysts polled in the last 3 months, a whopping majority of 30 rate a Buy on the stock with just 1 maintaining a Hold and 1 issuing a Sell. With a healthy return potential of nearly 19%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $219.11.

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