Social media stocks surge after Facebook earnings
Internet and social media stocks ripped higher Thursday, sparked by Facebook's oustanding quarterly earnings report.
"This seems to be a bit of a relief rally," said Keith Bliss, senior vice president at Cuttone & Co. "The overall market has been pretty painfully oversold for a week now, and there have been some good opportunities. Facebook seems to be the main driver for the social media stocks today."
Facebook's solid results and stock gain helped to lift other Internet companies. Shares of Twitter and LinkedIn jumped nearly 7 and 5 percent, respectively. Other Internet and social media companies, including Pandora, Yelp and Groupon, were also notably higher.
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On Wednesday afternoon, Facebook posted quarterly results that exceeded Wall Street expectations. It boosted the stock as much as 16 percent Thursday, to an all-time high of $62.50. The shares are up more than 60 percent since the company went public at $38 a share in May 2012.
In addition to topping analysts' earnings and sales forecasts, Facebook boasted its strong mobile-ad business, saying fourth-quarter revenue from advertising was $2.34 billion—up 76 percent year over year—with mobile ad revenue accounting for about 53 percent of the total.
Facebook also said the number of mobile active users was up 39 percent from a year earlier, to 945 million as of Dec. 31, beating analysts' expectations of 919 million.
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"We expect Facebook to continue to ride the mobile wave as the gap between media time spent on mobile [12 percent] and ad budgets allocated to mobile [3 percent] closes ... and as the value of Facebook ads are proven to brand marketers," wrote analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald.
On Feb. 4, Facebook will mark its 10th anniversary since going live.
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Twenty-nine Wall Street analysts were quick to raise their price targets on the stock Thursday. Most notably, JPMorgan lifted its target to $80 a share from $62, with an overweight rating.
"As competitors begin to provide more in the way of customizable audience targeting, app install ads and better mobile placement, Facebook's ability to retain an edge in mobile ad quality will be key," said a note from Evercore, which increased its target price on Facebook to $70 from $65. "However, Facebook's scale, mobile ad quality to date, and one-stop approach for marketers lend them some maneuvering ... which we see as still suggesting some further upside."
Earlier this week, investors had hit the brakes on social media stocks amid caution ahead of Facebook's earnings. Its shares dropped nearly 2 percent, and Twitter slumped more than 3 percent.
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Twitter is slated to post its first quarterly earnings results as a public company after the closing bell next Wednesday. Like Facebook, the microblogging website depends on mobile ads for revenue. Analysts expect the company to report a loss of 2 cents a share on sales of $218 million, according to a consensus from Thomson Reuters.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park. Follow her on Twitter @JeeYeonParkCNBC