Earnings season always brings surprises and serves as a catalyst for ratings. In light of impending and recent reports, analysts weigh in on the social giant Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and search giant Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL).
Facebook will report Q3’15 results today after the bell. Ahead of the release, Sarah Hindlian from Brean Capital weighed in on the social media giant, maintaining a Buy rating on the stock with a $111 price target. The analyst expects the company to beat consensus estimate by ~1.5% and assured that the company is a long-term pick, and advises to buy on any dips.
According to Hindlian, while the foreign exchange (FX) environment worsened by almost 100-150 basis points since Facebook’s Q2 report, the company has been able to offset damage by strong video & carousel ads, ongoing budget shifts to digital/ social and Instagram’s ramp up.
Hindlian is bullish on the fundamentals of the company and its potential to ramp products, including Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus Rift, and Messenger. However, she also upholds a degree of caution given rising expectations, premium valuation, an adverse FX environment, in addition to the uncertainty around FY16’s initial expense guidance.
Hindlian estimates that Facebook will post Total Revenues of $4.396 billion, up 37% year-over-year vs. consensus of $4.37 billion; Ad Revenues of $4.184 billion, up 41% year-over-year vs. consensus estimate of $4.17 billion; and EPS of $0.54 vs. consensus of $0.52. According to the analyst, although Facebook has posted upside to the consensus ad revenue forecasts for the past five consecutive quarters, the magnitude of the beats have been declining, partly due to the tough FX environment. However, the FX environment has improved quarter-to-date during 4Q15.
Hindlian expects Facebook to provide some insight into its cost growth trajectory, though she credits that Facebook is wisely investing into its infrastructure and products. The analyst also mentions that Facebook has been consistently lowering its initial expense guidance each quarter, and she therefore anticipates an early outlook may be overly conservative. Hindlian concludes “We believe Facebook is a critical play on a secular shift in the $700bn global advertising industry to the Internet.”
Hindlian has rated Facebook’s stock 7 times. Based on these ratings, her success rate for the stock is 100% and her average return on the stock is 19.6%. Out of 21 analysts polled by TipRanks who have recently rated Facebook’s stock, all of them have unanimously rated the company as a Buy with no trace of any bearish sentiments. The average consensus price target for the stock is $116.81, an upside of about 13% over current levels.
Earlier this week, Victor Anthony from Axiom Capital weighed in on Alphabet, the new parent company of Google. Anthony maintained his Buy rating on the stock and increased his price target to $900 from $850.
Anthony increased his price target due to his belief that “Alphabet will generate higher mobile search and YouTube revenues than we had previously modeled.”After reevaluating his model, Anthony determined that his estimates for both mobile search and YouTube revenues were too low for 2016 and 2017. At the same time, he chooses to be conservative in terms of expenses. He’s increased the 2016 revenues and adjusted EBITDA by 8% and 1% respectively, and also increased the Adjusted EPS by $1.56 to $34.36.
For 2017, Anthony says, “We have increased our revenue and Adj. EBITDA by 14% and 7% respectively, and our Adjusted EPS by $4.18 to $42.10.” All of these changes have led to the revision of the price target.
In his report, Anthony points to other key highlights for Alphabet. In terms of Search, he says, Google has successfully transitioned to mobile while the competition has been largely ineffective in taking a material share. He adds, “User appetite for conducting searches remains strong, and demand from advertisers for Search ads is high.” Also, YouTube continues to benefit from services like TrueView ads and Google Preferred and is well poised to capture TV ad budgets.
According to Anthony, some of the risks to the Alphabet story are the lingering antitrust investigations in Europe and increasing competition from Facebook and Twitter for online video ad dollars as well as for direct response advertising.
According to TipRanks’ statistics, out of 22 ratings for Google’s stock, Anthony has a success rate of 61% with an average return on the stock of 8.3%. Out of 37 analysts polled by TipRanks who have recently rated Alphabet’s stock, 35 have rated it as Buy and 2 have rated it as Hold; none of the analysts have given a Sell rating to the stock. The average consensus price target for the stock is $827.89, an upside of nearly 10% over current levels.