Jim Cramer: Facebook Stock ‘Hard to Like’
With analysts’ average target price of $38 per share — the same level at from its much ballyhooed initial public offering — Cramer said that surprisingly strong numbers from Facebook would give the stock an immediate boost.
“But as far as I’m concerned, right now when I look at Facebook, I just see an expensive stock without any catalysts to move it dramatically higher,” he said. “In other words, I see it just like the analysts, hard to love and maybe even, sub rosa, hard to like.”
First, Cramer looked at Morgan Stanley’s overweight rating, which he called “so lukewarm you might be tempted to sell the darned thing off this piece of research.”
(Related Story: Why You Should Own Facebook Now: Gene Munster)
Aside from the usual risk factors, analyst Scott Devitt raised the possibility of disappointing mobile ad performance.
“When you hear concerns about ‘brand transitions’ to mobile, it raises questions about whether General Motors wasn’t alone in slashing its Facebook advertising budget,” Cramer said.
Also of interest was concern about privacy issues, or how much user data Facebook will be able to share with advertisers before it alienates customers or raises government scrutiny.
On the high end of the spectrum, JPMorgan gave Facebook a $45 price target — but that’s for the end of 2013.
“Given that this is supposed to be one of the fastest growing companies on earth, I don’t know if it’s worth hanging around for a 40 percent gain in 18 months,” Cramer said. “That’s not so exciting to me considering the risks here.”
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs set a price target of $43 in 12 months, even as it downplayed concerns about “Facebook fatigue.”
“Given that I didn’t even know there were any worries about fatigue, I found that comment disconcerting,” Cramer said.
Also, both JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs did not foresee robust mobile ad revenues ahead.
Citigroup, which set a price target of $35 per share, pointed out another concern: Facebook’s dual-class ownership structure.
That, Cramer said, “raises issues about shareholder friendliness, as well as limited appeal to advertisers, unclear mobile monetization and worries about the enormous pending lock-up expiration.”
The bottom line, he added, was that all the recent Wall Street research shows that analysts are not looking to “pander to Facebook,” which he said was a good thing.
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