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Morgan Stanley says Facebook is a top stock pick

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Key Points
  • Morgan Stanley analysts said in a Friday note that Facebook remains the top pick among large-cap social media stocks.
  • Its investments and monetization efforts could offset any near-term engagement drop-offs as the coronvirus pandemic nears an end.
  • Morgan Stanley also sees Facebook driving ad growth, helping the social media giant navigate through near-term engagement headwinds.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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Morgan Stanley analysts said in a Friday note that Facebook remains the top pick among large-cap social media stocks, with its investments and monetization efforts offsetting any near-term engagement drop-offs as the coronavirus pandemic nears an end.

"We remain most positive on FB within the large cap social media names as we see their leading ROI, product innovation, and monetization call options (Reels, Marketplace, Shopping, etc) enabling them to navigate through difficult near-term engagement headwinds," the firm said.

Morgan Stanley also sees Facebook driving ad growth, helping the social media giant with a potential drop-off in engagement.

"We also note that even a slight increase in News Feed ad load could offset any engagement decline. In our view, the extent to which FB can deliver on topline can lead to $16+ of free cash flow per share next year, painting a path toward our $440 bull case (~30% upside)," the analysts said.

As Covid-19 pandemic restrictions lift, people are likely to be spending less time on social media. The firm said lower social media use and engagement leads to the increasing importance of innovation and ad pricing/ROI. That will help drive ad growth and allow the company to beat estimates in the second half of this year and next.

"It will be increasingly important for social platforms to continue to develop products (social shopping, short-form video, maps, etc) that drive engagement and deliver measurable ad ROI directly linking ad dollars to transactions," the analysts said. It isn't a new dynamic but has increasing importance in order to meet or beat forward estimates, they added.

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