Facebook stock avoids steep drop as Street rethinks results

Fri Feb 1, 2013 4:41am IST

A man uses an iPad with a Facebook app in this photo illustration in Sofia January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

A man uses an iPad with a Facebook app in this photo illustration in Sofia January 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stoyan Nenov

Stocks

   

REUTERS - Shares of Facebook Inc (FB.O) recovered from an 8 percent slide on Thursday, finishing the regular session down less than 1 percent, as Wall Street's initial alarm over mobile revenue results and spending plans subsided.

Facebook said on Wednesday that fourth-quarter mobile advertising revenue doubled from the third quarter, but the results failed to live up to some investors' high expectations. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg's comments about boosting spending in the coming year signaled that profit margins will be under pressure, adding to concerns.

"The initial fast money said earnings are going down, numbers are coming down, the stock is going to get hit," said Macquarie Research analyst Ben Schachter.

"But the more people thought about it throughout the day, the momentum changed and longer-term investors won out, saying these are investments we think they should be making," he said.

Facebook has long established itself as one of the most popular websites with more than a billion users, but investors have worried that until the company's mobile advertising strategy takes off, revenue growth will remain shaky.

Three brokerages downgraded the stock, but most analysts said investor expectations were too high and Facebook's mobile advertising business was a good long-term bet.

Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser upgraded Facebook to a "buy" rating on Thursday, calling Wall Street's reaction to the results "downright dazed."

The stock market incorrectly interpreted Facebook's "mobile revenue figures as a negative when in fact they are part of a story that we can see as qualitatively more favorable," Wieser said.

Shares of the company finished regular trading on Thursday down 0.8 percent at $30.98 on the Nasdaq. Earlier in the session, the stock fell as low as $28.74. Facebook stock has lost more than a quarter of its value since its botched debut in May.

The company reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Wednesday and said mobile advertising revenue doubled to $306 million, suggesting it was making inroads into handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Investors were looking for at least $350 million in mobile advertising revenue, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a note to clients.

"While the trajectory of mobile growth may not be as steep as some investors were hoping, the theme of mobile as the future of Facebook remains intact," Munster said.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Daniel Salmon, however, said Facebook's 2013 stock performance would not be dictated by its ability to generate mobile ad dollars. He downgraded the stock on Thursday to "market perform" from "outperform."

Salmon said new catalysts were necessary to drive Facebook's stock price up.

(Reporting by Neha Alawadhi and Sayantani Ghosh in Bangalore and Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco; editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Matthew Lewis)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Diwali Sales

Diwali Sales

Gold sales jump about 20 pct for Diwali - trade body  Full Article 

World Bank Rival

World Bank Rival

Three major nations absent as China launches W.Bank rival in Asia  Full Article 

Wal-Mart India

Wal-Mart India

Murali Lanka appointed as Wal-Mart India operations chief  Full Article 

Microsoft Earnings

Microsoft Earnings

Microsoft sales beat Street hopes, cloud profits up.  Full Article 

Special Report

Special Report

Why Madrid's poor fear Goldman Sachs and Blackstone  Full Article 

U.S. Economy

U.S. Economy

Spectre of no-inflation world looms over Fed's return to normal  Full Article 

Insider Trading

Insider Trading

Rengan Rajaratnam, SEC to settle civil insider trading charge.  Full Article 

Market Watch

Market Watch

Betting on the beaten up? Investors pin hopes on stocks in Europe, Japan.  Full Article 

India Insight

India Insight

Kalki Koechlin on her role as a disabled girl in “Margarita, With a Straw”  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage