Is Facebook Inc (FB) the Top Technology Pick Now?

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The last few months have not been good for technology companies that rely on advertisement revenues. The recent economic uncertainty due to the fiscal cliff has been one of the main reasons advertisers have been cautious and advertisement budgets have shrunk. This has adversely affected companies such as Google, Pandora, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Zynga, etc., which rely on Internet and mobile advertisements for their revenues.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is one of the biggest and most discussed technology stocks on the market. This technology giant drives a large part of its total revenues from advertisements. Although it’s new on the listed block and it never really ‘failed’ to have made a comeback, the poor valuations and IPO criticism that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) faced almost makes one believe the company has made a comeback. The recent improved performance of the stock is primarily due to its impressive mobile monetization and exceptional lockup expiration management. I believe Facebook is one of the best technology bets and has far better valuations than either SINA Corp (NASDAQ:SINA) or Baidu.com, Inc. (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU).

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)Expectations

The tech giant has released its 4Q earnings. The market was expecting Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) to report sales of $1.5 billion and EBITA of $853 million, and was also expecting the social giant to report an EPS of $0.15. The company has met or exceeded these expectations in the last two quarters, as the table below shows.

Earnings History Jun 12 Sep 12
EPS Est 0.12 0.11
EPS Actual 0.12 0.12
Difference 0.00 0.01
Surprise % 0.00% 9.10%

Source: Yahoo! Finance

The following were the key issues before the earnings announcement:

i)   The Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Exchange has garnered strong consumer interest, but it remains to be seen how much of that has been translated into commercial success.

ii) The most important aspect from the earnings announcement would be once again the growth from mobile. Last quarter the company earned approximately 14% of its revenue from mobile, and investors expect this figure to substantially improve.

Results

The Internet giant reported revenues of $1.59 billion, EBITDA of $902 million, and an EPS of $0.17, beating the Street hands down. Although it is a modest beat, it says a lot about the ability of Facebook to maintain sales in a tough quarter that has been plagued by fiscal cliff anxiety.

Key takeaways

As I have mentioned above the market was worried about mobile monetization and the performance of Facebook Exchange. There was more than impressive growth in mobile monetization, as it increased to 23% of total revenues. The overall advertisement revenues were flat for the quarter, as the growth in mobile was offset by a 9% decline in desktop revenues. Moreover as per my macroeconomic concerns there was a 4% decline in ad pricing according to sell side estimates. This was mostly due to a weak advertisement market and should impact other major players that drive advertisement revenues from the European and North American businesses. However, I believe this is a short term concern and expect pricing to stabilize in the first half of 2013. The company has also announced massive investments in R&D in a bid to keep diversifying revenues away from advertisement.

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