Shares of Facebook Inc. (FB), already up 17.5% year-to-date (YTD) at a price of $207.32, compared to the S&P 500's 4.8% gain in 2018, could rally another near 16%, according to one team of bulls on the Street, reported CNBC.
Analysts at Jefferies wrote a note to clients Friday in which they reiterated a buy rating on the social media stock and lifted their 12-month price target from $215 to $240. Last week, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg stole the title of the world's third-richest person from legendary investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett as the tech titan continues to make a comeback from March lows. (See also: Zuckerberg's Net Worth Surpasses Buffett's.)
Investors sold off Facebook shares earlier this year on fears of heightened regulatory pressure after a headline data scandal involving London-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which occurred ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential race. Zuckerberg has since testified in front of Congress, admitting the company's mistakes and vowing to improve its privacy standards.
Advertisers Prefer Facebook
Jefferies cited the strength of Facebook's bread-and-butter advertising business and its red-hot Instagram platform, which rivals Snap Inc.'s (SNAP) Snapchat.
“We see continued strength from advertisers seeking the best ROI online and FB continuing to deliver best-in-class capabilities for advertisers,” wrote Jefferies' Brent Thill. Facebook’s “continued strength in pricing, growth in Instagram provides upside to 2Q numbers,” he added.
New additions to the Facebook platform, such as a video offering on Instagram called IGTV, should offer more monetization prospects, noted the analyst. Instagram has become a popular platform for advertisers, using "influencers" to promote their products and directly link to checkout via a new e-commerce service. Jefferies indicated that checks with advertisers revealed increased pricing for the company's ads. The bull expects Facebook to post second-quarter revenue of $13.303 billion, compared to the $13.287 billion consensus estimate. (See also: Can Amazon Help Snap Beat Instagram?)