Facebook Inc. (FB) may have more competition in the advertising world, but that hasn’t fazed UBS analyst Eric Sheridan who late last week raised his price target on the social media giant to $165 a share from $155 a share. Currently, Facebook is trading at $139.84, which means that based on UBS’s new price target, Facebook shares have 18% more upside this year.
In a research report covered by the media, Sheridan said Facebook could monetize its WhatsApp and virtual reality unit Oculus via advertisements, which bodes well for its future prospects. The analyst thinks Facebook can grow its advertising business at a more than 25% rate from 2016 through 2019, with the key drivers being its foray into video, ecommerce and its Instagram unit, which it spent $1 billion to acquire. (See also: Facebook B2B Campaign to Court Video Advertisers.)
UBS Not the Only Bull on Facebook
“We are constructive that over the next 2-5 years, FB Messenger, WhatsApp & Oculus will move from a focus on user growth and ecosystem investments to monetization engines inside broader Facebook,” wrote the analyst. Sheridan predicts video ad revenue will grow by a lot during the course of the next few years and will represent 18% of total advertising revenue in 2019. For 2017 overall, Sheridan thinks Facebook will have advertising revenue of $36.8 billion, marking a 2% increase from a year ago and around 5% in 2018 to $46.8 billion. As for its gross margins, the analyst said it doesn’t see anything over the next two or three years that will prevent it from maintaining its “flattish” EBITDA margins. “We continue to see FB as a core large cap Internet holding for strong revenue growth at reasonable valuation multiples against 2-3 year growth,” Sheridan said in the research report.
UBS isn’t the only analyst that is upbeat about Facebook’s prospects. Earlier this month, the research firm eMarketer, predicted the amount of money going to U.S. digital advertising in 2017 is expected to increase nearly 16%, reaching $83 billion, with Alphabet Inc.’s Google (GOOG) and Facebook the main beneficiaries of the increased spending. Overall Google will still be the leader in terms of digital ad dollars, accounting for 40.7% of the U.S. share this year, but eMarketer found Facebook is leading in display ads.
eMarketer is forecasting Facebook’s display-ad business in the U.S. will increase 32.1% this year, hitting $16.33 billion, with Facebook accounting for 39.1% of the market share. eMarketer said the growth in ad spending on Facebook can be attributed to an increase in the number of users and the time the users are spending on the social network, which in turn draws more advertisers. What’s more, eMarketer said Instagram is driving growth in advertising for Facebook. eMarketer is forecasting Instagram will represent 20% of Facebook’s mobile revenue this year, which is up from 15% a year ago.