Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Splits Wall Street’s Personality on Great Earnings

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ) Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook Inc  revealed its numbers for the three months through June on Wednesday and Wall Street was confused. A slew of upgrades followed the firm’s numbers, but stock fell by more than 5 percent right after the numbers were revealed. The forecasts of sell-side research houses were not the same as those in other sectors, and that tension is clear on Thursday morning.

Facebook Inc zuckerberg

At time of writing shares in Facebook are down by more than 2 percent in pre-market trading. They’ve recovered from the lows of Wednesday evening on the back of a number of upgrades from Wall Street. Whether shares sink further, or rise, on market open is anyone’s guess.

Facebook earnings bring upgrades

Facebook  beat the sell-side expectations for both earnings and revenue by a wide margin on Wednesday evening. The firm recorded non-GAAP EPS of 50 cents on sales of $4.04B. Wall Street had been looking for non-GAAP EPS of 47 cents on sales of $3.99B.

There didn’t seem to be any off-kilter numbers in the report that might drive shares down. Sell side research firms were, according to the reports released on Thursday morning, very happy with Facebook’s report.

Brean Capital analyst Sarah Hindlian raised here target price on the stock from $108 to $111. She said that the report showed off “strong execution, careful monetization, and a leading long-term position in the digital advertising industry.”

William Bird of FBR Capital raised his price target to $118 from $94. He said that Facebook “is uniquely positioned to grow its share of the high-growth mobile ad market, a function of its product format, unique data asset (i.e., definitive IDs and cross-device login), and strong track record of innovation.”

If the early sell-side reviews of the firm’s report are any guide, the mood around the firm on that part of Wall Street is good. Why then did so much of a sell-off hit the stock on the back of the earnings numbers?

Great expectations at Facebook

Facebook  falls into Jim Cramer’s FANG Group which includes itself, Amazon, Netflix and Google. These are the web giants that truly control their markets. For the June quarter the other three firms strongly outperformed what Wall Street was looking for. It seems that traders wanted something close to that from Facebook on Wednesday.

Instagram, which was supposed to be the headline figure leading into the June report, showed little cash flow from its ad build up. Facebook confirmed that the ramp up in the photo-based social network would be slow and steady.

Facebook simply didn’t surprise in the same way that its peers in the FANG group did this time around, and a lot of money may have been put on it doing do. The options market was pricing a move of more than 8 percent into the firm’s stock ahead of the report. Nothing in the report that was released was close to bringing that about.

Facebook is a strong firm with a high stock price. The sell-side on Wall Street is betting that the firm is good enough to grow into that valuation. Others aren’t so sure, and for some reason they chose right after earnings to get out of the stock.

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