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Analysts pick Internet avoid

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The winners and losers of social media stocks

Facebook's ad revenue rose 45 percent in its the latest quarter, and it's market cap is now $300 billion. But that doesn't mean other social network stocks are as attractive.

Mark Mahaney, managing director at RBC Capital Markets, said Facebook has proven it can sustain user growth, and it's benefiting from deepening user engagement.

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In contrast, Twitter has slower long-term growth prospects, in part because it still hasn't improved its user interface enough, Mahaney said.

"It's going to take a while to turn this around if they are able to do that," Mahaney said in an interview, adding that investors might want to avoid buying Twitter's stock for the forseeable future. He has a "sector perform" rating on the stock, and a $34 price target.

Shares of professional social networking site LinkedIn may actually have better prospects than Twitter, Mahaney said, citing its high profitability and rising levels of user engagement. The company's profits grew 37 percent year over year to $780 million in the third quarter.

And the company could double its user base over the next five years, according to Wedbush Morgan Internet analyst Michael Pachter. The company has more than 400 million registered users worldwide, according to the company's website.

Among the broader internet stock sector, Yahoo may be a stock to avoid, said Mahaney.

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S&P Capital IQ analyst Scott Kessler agrees. "They're investing heavily to try to develop products and attract advertisers, so far with mixed results at best," Kessler said in a phone interview last month.

What's more, the Internet pioneer has been losing relevance as consumers shift from desktop to mobile use, Kessler said.

"The ground is continuing to shift under them and they're doing whatever they can to reposition ... things haven't really worked as of yet," Kessler said.

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Groupon may be another stock to avoid, Mahaney said, citing concerns that the company may not have a sustained consumer value proposition.

Earlier this week Groupon's stock was punished after the company reported disappointing results and a customer base that has leveled off.

Separately, Groupon agreed to settle a $8.5 million class action lawsuit arguing that, according to federal law, vouchers and gift certificates can't expire.