Facebook: A $100 Stock by 2014 if Not Sooner

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg did exactly what he needed to do Tuesday afternoon at TechCrunch's Disrupt conference.

He admitted a mistake.

Zuckerberg didn't talk his way around it or b.s. his way out of it. He didn't sound like a typical CEO.

Zuckerberg told the crowd that Facebook's biggest error was blowing two years not focused on mobile. In other words, the migration from the desktop to mobile snuck up on the company. Facebook was busy building a killer Web site when it should have been getting ahead of the curve in mobile.

It's really never been more complicated than that.

Folks who jumped on the media-navigated bearish Facebook bandwagon not only misunderstood Facebook's mobile strategy, as Zuckerberg said, they don't get mobile in general.

At this stage, Facebook has everything it needs to command a significant chunk of the mobile pie. It has the user base, which continues to shift to smartphones and tablets. And it has a team capable of shifting gears and erecting mobile applications that are every bit as good as Facebook's Web platform.

If Facebook was in the early stages of building an audience, I would be concerned. But it's not. Frankly, if one of the biggest mistakes Zuckerberg makes in his career is ramping up mobile a couple years too late, it's all good. And that's coming from a shareholder.

eMarketer's recent data shows the mobile ad revenue market growing from $2.61 billion this year to $6.61 billion by 2014 and nearly $12 billion by 2016.

Google ( GOOG) leads and will continue to lead. Beyond that, the hierarchy will change over the next few years.

There's a reason why Pandora ( P) will finish 2012 in second place. Not only does it have a large and established audience, Pandora anticipated the mobile transformation long before Facebook did. It would have been tough for Pandora not to get a head start.

When Apple ( AAPL) introduced iPhone, Pandora's audience went through the roof. Its platform went from one that, by and large, was tied to a fixed location to one users could take with them just about anywhere.

Because a lion's share of radio listening happens in the car, the mobile environment naturally suits Pandora. And it cemented the company as "radio," not some undefinable, but really cool "thing."

It took longer for users to treat Facebook the same or in similar ways. That's how it went down, yet, drunk on hindsight, critics yelp Zuckerberg missed the boat!

That's as absurd as it is unfair.

I bought more Facebook stock on Tuesday before Zuckerberg spoke. I like the guy. I have confidence in his ability. He's clearly one of the sharpest tools in the shed. And he came through. He said all of the right things.

At 11:18 a.m. California time, I tweeted:

@RoccoPendola - Just added to $FB position. BTW, Zuck should have 2 words for people who want "answers" from him today. You know what they are. #stockaction

Obviously, the CEO has a bit more tact than I do.

Then, at 12:51 p.m., I tweeted:

@RoccoPendola - Have a feeling that if $FB can hit $20 after Zuck speaks, it doesn't look back. Once those mobile numbers come into view, look out.

FB crossed $20 after hours. You have to be careful with after-hours movements. The stock kept moving higher as Zuckerberg spoke. Without doubt, traders faded the top. Suckers bought that top in the extended session.

But, the pain should only be temporary. I'm in the stock at a cost basis of just under $23. And I'm not concerned in the slightest.

This thing has $100 written all over it by 2014 -- when eMarketer projects Facebook mobile revenue will top $629 million -- if not sooner.

Stop!

Don't say the word "valuation." Investors will not price FB on the basis of some fifth grade mathematical formula. They will assign a multiple on the basis of the amount of confidence they have in Facebook's potential for and ability to achieve consistent and rapid growth.

Mark Zuckerberg went a long way toward instilling that trust on Tuesday. For patient longs, faith and strong hands will be rewarded.

At the time of publication, the author was long FB and P.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Rocco Pendola is a private investor with nearly 20 years experience in various forms of media, ranging from radio to print. His work has appeared in academic journals as well as dozens of online and offline publications. He uses his broad experience to help inform his coverage of the stock market, primarily in the technology, Internet and new media spaces. He has taken a long-term approach to investing, focusing on dividend-paying stocks, since he opened his first account as a teenager. Pendola, 37, is based in Santa Monica, Calif., where he lives with his wife and child.

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