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As Wall Street bets big on Facebook and Twitter, trader says another social media stock could be better bet

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Social media bright spots: Traders unpack BofA's bullish call

Social media has become a particular "bright spot" in this market, according to Bank of America Securities.

The firm on Tuesday raised its price targets for Facebook, Alphabet, Pinterest, Snap and Twitter, saying social media data remained a highlight in the growth story because Instagram, Twitter and Snap downloads accelerated year over year in August.

BofA's targets for Facebook and Twitter are new Street highs for the stocks.

But with the group running hot, it's worth considering the technical picture when seeking opportunities, JC O'Hara, chief market technician at MKM Partners, told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Wednesday.

"When you look across the board, a lot of these social media stocks are testing 52-week highs, all-time highs and some of them have already started to break out," O'Hara said.

His top pick was Snap, which closed Wednesday up 5% at $23.53.

The Snapchat parent's stock had "formed a giant base" in the roughly three years since its IPO, with its price finally breaking above a key resistance level at $20 in mid-June, O'Hara said.

"That old resistance became new support, and that's exactly where Snapchat was able to stir up some new buyers," he said. "It's on pace to trade double the average monthly volume, so that tells me there's really some conviction from buyers here."

With that momentum behind it, Snap could revisit highs not seen since 2017, he said.

"I believe it's first going to target the July highs at 26, and if we do see that positive momentum in the entire group continue, I believe it can run to … the post-IPO high of $29," O'Hara said. "That's where we see it over the short term and over the intermediate term."

Chad Morganlander, senior portfolio manager at Washington Crossing Advisors, backed the idea that social media companies would continue to grow thanks to their involvement in online advertising.

"Many of them, though, based off of valuation, have run a bit too far," Morganlander said in the same "Trading Nation" interview.

"If there was one in the group ... that I would pick as a buy that I would own for three to five years, that would be Google," he said. "We own that in our all-cap value portfolio. We think that it has a well-diversified business line and it should do quite well post-pandemic as small businesses go back to advertising online. We do also believe that operating margins will expand over the next three to five years. So, that would be one of the safer bets."

The battle over TikTok is also something for investors to consider, Morganlander said. Oracle and a joint bid from Microsoft and Walmart are leading suitors in the sale of the ByteDance subsidiary's U.S. business. 

A deal would "make it clear that social media is here to stay," the portfolio manager said. "The Walmart presence in that whole acquisition makes it quite interesting. We believe that over the long run, a company like Microsoft could be another conservative way of playing this social media trend. ... The two companies that we would be invested in, which we own in our personal portfolio, [are] Google as well as a small position in Microsoft."

Alphabet shares closed nearly 4% higher on Wednesday. Microsoft's stock ended trading up almost 2% at a new all-time closing high.

Disclosure: Washington Crossing Advisors owns shares of Microsoft and Alphabet. Morganlander personally owns shares of Alphabet.

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