Facebook not only beat earnings expectations on an adjusted basis (stripping out the $3 billion set aside for a Federal Trade Commission fine) with earnings per share of $1.89, versus expectations of $1.62. The company also showed it can get future costs and expenditures under control as it grows new businesses.
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Facebook's Stories product saw 32% impressions growth. Looking ahead, management guided for operating expense growth for 2019 of between 37% and 45%, down from an initial expectation of 40% to 50%. Facebook also lowered capital expenditures growth guidance.
Shares were rising 6.97% to $195.30 in early trading on Thursday.
Here's what Wall Street is saying:
Morgan Stanley, Overweight, PT Raised from $195 to $210
"FB's across the board beat (rev, FCF, EPS, users) speaks to its continued ability to drive monetization of its old (newsfeed) and new (Stories) engagement formats," said Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak in a note out Thursday. "We were particularly impressed by the 32% free cash flow beat as strong top-line and more capex/opex discipline drove upside."
Stifel, Hold, PT Raised from $155 to $175
"Our 2019E GAAP operating margin (ex-FTC) is now 37.6% from 36.1% previously due to flow-through from the 1Q beat and tempered opex growth expectations," analyst Scott Devitt wrote in a note out Wednesday evening.
Oppenheimer, Outperform, PT Raised from $195 to $225
"We're increasing our price target from $195 to $225 and maintaining our Outperform rating after FB reported modestly better revenue, but meaningfully lower 1Q core opex, and lowered FY core expense guidance," analyst Jason Helfstein. On the revenue side, "management gave examples how new ad formats are improving ad performance."
Deutsche Bank, Buy, PT Raised from $205 to $220
"We feel better about Facebook's medium term top line trajectory given lower-than- feared deceleration in 1Q (2.2 ppts), skepticism around management's guidance for greater 2H sequential growth deceleration, increased advertisers in Stories (3M vs 2M last quarter)," said analyst Lloyd Walmsley. "Opex and capex growth already look to be moderating and the reduced guidance still looks conservative to us as it implies re-accelerating opex despite easier comps."
RBC Capital Markets, Outperform, PT Raised From $200 to $225
"FB's Q1 Revenue & GAAP Op Income (excl. [onetime] charge) came in well above Street, thanks to INSTA strength & pricing power," analyst Mark Mahaney wrote in a note. "FB reiterated what appears to be conservative guide re: Rev Growth deceleration, but reduced its FY19 opex growth guide."
Mahaney added that he thinks Facebook can sustain a 20% EPS compound annual growth rate through 2021.