Facebook At $600? Stranger Things Have Happened

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It seems that I've lost a few friends recently by suggesting that investors should blame themselves for their losses in Facebook ( FB) instead of the company.

But I'm long on personal responsibility and short on excuses -- particularly when greed is involved.

My stance has generated more than the normal volume of hate mail. And as I glanced through several of the notes, I saw that many investors insisted that the company should have "talked down its stock," as its underwriters were clearly overvaluing its IPO. But what company does that?

That said, how Facebook went public will forever change the landscape of the IPO market and the scrutiny venture capitalists and underwriters receive, and deservedly so. Looking at its initial pricing of $38 and where it trades today at $18, to say the company has underperformed would be a gross understatement.

However, I think it is time to stop looking in the review mirror and instead look at the windshield. You just might like what you see.

The fact of the matter is, Facebook's stock and its business are two entirely separate things. Expectations and performance of the equity when compared to its business fundamentals are not only different, but they're being unfairly judged. As beaten up as the company might be by investors, Facebook's popularity among users continues to grow.

Facebook is second to Google ( GOOG) among the most widely visited websites in the world, according to Alexa. With its integration into Apple's ( AAPL) mobile iOS, as well as investments made by Microsoft ( MSFT), which owns the Bing search engine, it's not hard to see the company eventually becoming the leader and surpassing Google. And who knows, it may even trade at Google's current valuation -- over $600 -- 10 years from now.

There are many positives with the company, not the least of which is the fact that it continues to grow its user base rapidly. It now reaches 955 million people, representing an annual increase of 29%. It's not a stretch to predict that number will exceed 1 billion by the end of the year.

On the other hand, the prevailing debate continues to be about whether it will ever get these users to spend. To some extent, I think it has answered this question. In its most recent earnings report, Facebook did beat on revenue by posting $1.18 billion, just not by a meaningful enough margin, even though it was 32% higher than the previous quarter.

Still, having a service with almost 1 billion users is nothing to shake a stick at. From that standpoint, its potential to offer immediate returns to businesses by providing targeted advertising is enormous. It is then that Facebook will eventually answer the most important question of all: What is the value of social media?

But as of now, it seems that the only issue that investors wish to focus on is that its IPO was somewhat of an embarrassment. Perhaps, but in five to 10 years when the stock is over $500, will anyone care? Instead, as with Apple stock now, investors will look back and wonder why they didn't buy more Facebook shares.

Because today, not only does the stock continue to show a considerable amount of support even after the lockup period has lapsed, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Facebook could end the year between $24 to $26 a share, or 30% above its current price.

What's more, I think it is foolish to discount the company's goldmine of demographic information. This is something that in and of itself is worth a considerable amount of money to companies who are in desperate need of targeted marketing to grow their businesses.

Not only is the North American demographic growing, but Facebook continues to expand overseas. Germany, Russia and South Korea are seeing year-over-year growth of 47%, 74% and 57%, respectively.

The bottom line is that Facebook certainly has made some mistakes, but it is far from the worst company ever. For that matter, it is not even close to being the worst IPO ever. How quickly we forget how unimpressive the dot.com bubble was? But it is being grouped with stocks like Groupon ( GRPN) and other social media names with even dimmer outlooks.

Facebook will be around for a while, and its stock has plenty of time to be "liked" again. It just seems that for a company with merely one quarter under its belt as a public issue, we are digging its grave a bit prematurely. I'm willing to bet that the stock could reach $500 to $600 per share. I "like" the odds.

At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL and held no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Richard Saintvilus is a private investor with an information technology and engineering background and has been investing and trading for over 15 years. He employs conservative strategies in assessing equities and appraising value while minimizing downside risk. His decisions are based in part on management, growth prospects, return on equity and price-to-earnings as well as macroeconomic factors. He is an investor who seeks opportunities whether on the long or short side and believes in changing positions as information changes.