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​Why Facebook Keeps Seeing Analysts Raise Targets and Expectations Ahead of Earnings

By Jon C. Ogg January 8, 2018 12:35 pm ESTPrintEmail

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) has been the beneficiary of multiple analysts raising their price targets since the start of 2018. The company is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter 2017 earnings results on January 31, 2018, after the markets close. Analysts are setting the bar higher and higher for Facebook.

When we featured 20 companies catching multiple analyst upgrades in the first week alone, Facebook was already on the list. Now it has seen four more analysts raise price targets.

On Monday, January 8, 2018, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo had higher targets for the social media giant. A fourth call came from Pivotal Research, although that was a cautious call.

Credit Suisse reiterated an Outperform rating and raised its target price to $232 from $230. The firm noted that the increase is due to mobile news feed estimates and after channel checks with outside advertisers that target Facebook. The analyst did note that it has a Blue Sky Scenario of $300 if the company outperforms expectations to the point that outside firms alter their views for 2019 earnings.

JPMorgan reiterated its Overweight rating and raised its target price to $230 from $225, followed by Wells Fargo reiterating its Outperform rating and raising its target to $230 from $215.

While Pivotal Research Group raised its $136 price target to $147, the firm sees the stock as overvalued against future valuations. Pivotal still has a Sell rating on Facebook.

Also worth noting, FBN Securities reiterated its Outperform rating, its $210 price target, and its “Top Pick for 2018” status for Facebook.

CFRA (S&P) issued another report on Facebook over the weekend. The firm has reiterated its Buy rating and it has a $200 target price. The view is that Facebook constitutes a unique combination of growth and value for investors.

Last Friday, Facebook was reiterated as Outperform and the price target was raised to $220 from $200 at Cowen. On the same day, Citigroup reiterated its Buy rating and raised its own price target to $215 from $210.

Facebook had a consensus target of about $209 ahead of the calls seen last week. Thomson Reuters now shows the consensus analyst target up at $210.17, but that may not include all the fresh target hikes. That being said, there are currently 45 analysts covering Facebook in the Thomson Reuters universe, with 42 Buy or Strong Buy equivalent ratings, one Hold and 2 Sell or Strong Sell ratings.

Thomson Reuters already has Facebook pegged as having a mere 13% tax bracket for 2017, but that is down from 25% in 2016 and 40% in both 2015 and in 2014. It remains to be seen if Facebook will be a huge tax reform winner compared with other companies with higher actual tax rates.

Facebook shares closed up 1.4% last Friday at $186.85, and that was already a gain of 5.9% so far in 2018 alone after major gains in 2017. Its stock was trading up 0.66% more at $188.10 after hitting an all-time high of $188.90 earlier in the same morning.