Wall Street Loves FB Despite Lack of Public Trust

Facebook Inc. (FB) may not have the trust of most Americans, including its users, but it still has the support of the majority of analysts on Wall Street.

Barron’s, citing data from FactSet Research, found that of the 44 analysts who cover the social media giant, 41 have buy ratings on the stock while only two rate it a hold, and only one Wall Street analyst has a sell rating on the social media giant. The average price target for Facebook is $221, which implies more than 10% upside from its current stock price of $198.40.

At the same time that Wall Street is singing the praises of Facebook, Barron’s pointed to a Reuters/Ipsos poll that showed that only 41% of Americans believe Facebook will adhere to privacy laws in the U.S. The reason for the divergence? According to Barron’s, a realization on the part of Wall Street that much of the world views Facebook as a necessity, similar to a smartphone, even if it creates all sorts of problems for society.

Facebook Emerges From Cambridge Analytica Scandal Unscathed

Take the Cambridge Analytica scandal of mid-March. After it was revealed that the now-defunct political consulting firm accessed information on 87 million Facebook users without their permission to help President Donald Trump get elected, many expected Facebook to lose customers in droves. After all, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg had to testify before Congress and regulators around the world vowed to crack down on Facebook and other social media properties. It even faced calls for the company to be broken up.  Still those predictions proved to be wrong. Sure there was widespread outrage but little in terms of action. The world still uses Facebook with Barron’s noting that Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, who had called for the social media giant to be broken up, posts nearly daily on the platform to his 182,000 followers. That underscores how indispensable Facebook has become and why Wall Street still loves it.

The World Needs Facebook

Barron’s reported that in the last quarter Facebook added 70 million users and now has 2.2 billion monthly active users. Marketers haven't left the platform in droves as was predicted, with the report noting that Facebook should rake in $21 billion in digital ad sales from the U.S. alone this year.

“Despite the headwinds and black clouds post-Cambridge Analytica, Zuckerberg and Facebook have seen minimal dings to their $50 billion advertising kingdom and two-billion-plus users, which remain central to our bullish thesis on shares of Facebook with regulatory worries now in the background,” said Daniel Ives, head of technology research at GBH Insights, in an interview printed in Barron’s.

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