Don’t necessarily assume that
will post less-than-stellar earnings on Wednesday because of all that’s swirling around the company right now—from antitrust and misinformation allegations leveled by Washington to the implications of
‘s new limits on ad tracking.
Wall Street certainly doesn’t think that’s the case, at least for the second quarter.
Facebook (ticker: FB) is expected to report a profit of $8.8 billion, or $3.52 a share—roughly 70% growth. And the consensus estimate for revenue is a nearly 50% increase, to $27.9 billion. Even Facebook’s monthly active user base is expected to grow 7.3% to 2.9 billion.
Now, it’s not that the threats don’t matter—they will at some point—but they simply don’t matter right now. Even a very real one here and now, Apple’s app tracking transparency initiative that went into effect in April and would force users to opt in to Facebook tracking outside of that app, doesn’t appear to have caused nearly as much damage to revenue as it could have.
The Street’s strong estimates, powerful results from social media rivals
(TWTR) last week, and last year’s weak quarter for digital advertisers because of Covid-19 spending pullbacks are all fueling investor expectations. According to analysts, they’re looking for a substantial beat and bullish guidance for the third quarter.
For Evercore ISI analyst Mark Mahaney, Apple’s tracking shift isn’t the story. He’s going to be looking closely at Facebook’s monthly user count and how it stands up to mid-lockdown last year when people didn’t have much else to do. Mahaney expects user growth to slow down.
BofA Securities analyst Justin Post agrees about Apple. Early data that his team has reviewed suggests the new policy won’t have much impact in the second quarter. Post thinks investors should watch for commentary about the impact of the tracking changes in the second half of the year; his team is predicting the new policy could bring down third-quarter revenue by a mid-single digit.
Advertising aside, it never hurts to pay a bit of attention to Facebook’s virtual reality efforts. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has stressed how important the company’s VR and augmented reality business might become, and has staked billions on that claim. Second-quarter revenue, which includes the Quest 2 VR gadget, is expected to be $690.5 million.
Of the 58 analysts who cover Facebook, 48 give shares a Buy rating. Seven rate the stock Hold, and three have a Sell rating. The average target price is $392.91, which implies an upside of 7.3%. The stock ended Tuesday’s regular session at $367.81.
Shares have advanced 34% this year; the
S&P 500 index
has advanced 18%.
Write to Max A. Cherney at email@example.com