OPPENHEIMER: Here are the three main reasons to be bullish on Facebook in 2017

Mark ZuckerbergJustin Sullivan/GettyFacebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Oppenheimer analyst Jason Helfstein named Facebook as his firm’s top internet stock pick for 2017 in a note distributed to clients on Monday.

“With the stock down 8% from its 52-week high, we see multiple reasons to be positive,” Helfstein said.

Here are Oppenheimer’s three key reasons to be bullish on Facebook this year:

  • Spending on ads increased during the 2016 holiday season. Oppenheimer sees a potentially “substantial upside to pricing” for Facebook ads, as spend increased 202% year-over-year during the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday in 2016.
  • More people used Facebook leading up to the U.S. presidential election. Oppenheimer cited comScore data that shows Facebook usage increasing by 8% during Q4 vs. a 1% increase in Q3. By contrast, Twitter saw a 30% decline in usage in November vs. its July 2016 peak. “As a result, we now estimate that FB needs to increase monetisation by 16% Q/Q to reach 4Q Street estimates, vs. 11% in 3Q, which seems quite achievable,” Helfstein wrote.
  • Instagram is growing. The app reached 600 million monthly active users in December, with 75-80% of those users outside of the U.S. Helfstein attributed Instagram adding 100 million users in six months to its introduction of Instagram Stories and live video.

Oppenheimer reiterated its outperform rating for Facebook with a price target of $144. The firm also raised its revenue expectations for Q4 from $8.3 to $8.5 billion due to Facebook ad spend and Instagram growth.

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