Wall Street gets real about Facebook
The research coverage raises some concerns and includes surprisingly modest price targets.
Jeez, what's gotten in to Wall Street? A conscience? A dose of realism? After reading all the research coverage initiations for Facebook (FB) on Wednesday, I am decidedly underwhelmed. The analysts just aren't behind this one, and it is worth tracing out why.
First, there's Morgan Stanley, which came out with an "overweight" rating, but the recommendation is so lukewarm that you might be tempted to sell it on the research. What jumps out at me immediately is the price target of $38. That's where Morgan Stanley brought the deal to begin with, suggesting that the analyst, Scott Devitt, thought the IPO was fully valued from the get-go. He has reservations, and they are actual reservations, not just the common boilerplate risk factors, including the issues involving mobile ads and the possibility of near-term disappointment on this front.
Considering that Devitt gave Facebook the equivalent of a near-term earnings shave on the eve of the IPO, it sounds to me like the migration from desktop to mobile continues to plague earnings. When you hear concerns about "brand transitions" to mobile, it raises questions about whether General Motors (GM) wasn't alone in slashing money toward Facebook advertising.
Morgan Stanley (MS) also raises privacy concerns, as in how much data about you Facebook can get away with sharing with advertisers before alienating its members or the government.
Looks like Morgan Stanley isn't kidding about having a price target that's square where the deal came, and not a penny further.
JPMorgan (JPM) has staked out the high end of the spectrum, coming out with a $45 price target. But even there, you can't get too excited, as that's a year-end 2013 target. Given that this company is supposed to be one of the fastest growing on earth, I don't know if I should hang out for a 40% gain in 18 months. That's not so exciting to me, given the risks here.
JPMorgan likes the so-called sponsored stories as a way to make money, and it predicts better pricing for mobile ads. Still, the firm is talking about mobile being a quarterly opportunity of just $300 million to $500 million for the company, and with an $86 billion market cap, I would have expected more.
Goldman Sachs (GS) is thinking the stock can go to $42 in 12 months, a lower target than JPMorgan but one that will be achieved in a shorter time frame. Goldman is talking about Facebook domination, but right up top it tells us not to worry about Facebook fatigue. Given that I didn't even know there were worries about fatigue, I found that comment disconcerting. Goldman also acknowledges that mobile is a headwind, something that's pretty negative when you consider the speed of mobile adoption that's currently going on. They do sight potential opportunity, though.
Far more typical is the neutral rating that Citigroup (C) gives Facebook, with a meager $35 target. Why? First, a dual-class ownership, which Citigroup says raises issues about shareholder friendliness as well as limited appeal to advertisers, unclear mobile monetization and worries about a pending huge lock-up expiration.
The bottom line here is twofold. First, Wall Street doesn't seem all that eager to pander to Facebook, and that is a very good and honest thing. Second, the bar has been set rather low. Anything surprisingly good from Facebook will produce immediate results. I just, right now, see an expensive stock without any catalysts to move it dramatically higher. In other words, I see it just like the analysts: hard to love and maybe even, sub rosa, even hard to like.
Jim Cramer is a co-founder of TheStreet and contributes daily market commentary to the financial news network's sites. Follow his trades for Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust and has no positions in the stocks mentioned.
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You can't eat a Facebook, live in one or wear it. Those who embrace it are unproductive. It has no assets and relies on an intangible conduit for existence. And you invested in it?
Why throw money to the wind ?
I trade no stocks.
I saved up 1/2 million+ in 17 years from earnings as electrical engineer.
only 7 comments today...........the word is out on this predator..........soon there will be 0 and then hopefully MSN will stop giving him access to ply his scam.......it doesn't make that much difference because eventually he will be in prison
once again the cramer "all amarcun" picks,etn,aapl,cost,clx are lagging the market up .25% while the market is up .68%
like most mutual funds he can't beat the market...........properly hedged ETF'S however easily beat the market
a little late with the column today .......must have had something written for a down day and
needed a little revision
"a very good and honest thing?" you should try it sometime
and finally for those who think i should try writing a column i say, as always :
PROPERLY HEDGED ETF'S ARE THE ONLY WAY TO BE IN THE MARKET FOR INDIVIDUAL INVESTORS........ANYTHING ELSE IS GAMBLING
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After Tuesday's rally, expect a big raid no matter the news. That's probably the safest way to play it ahead of the Fed.
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