As Facebook Gets Above $30 Again, the Overvalued Argument Comes Up


Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) has crossed back up over $30 for the first time since its disastrous initial public offering robbed billions of dollars from unsuspecting investors. Now there is a serious question to ask: Is Facebook now getting overvalued? We just featured Facebook in our Undervalued and Overvalued Internet Stocks for 2013 and the answer on the surface as of today is that Facebook is getting overvalued again.

The excitement around Facebook is being rekindled after the company has sent out a media invite about what the company is building. What is it?

The problem that keeps coming up in the valuation scheme is that Wall Street analysts are likely to keep changing their opinion and the price targets of the company. After founder Mark Zuckerberg finally came out speaking at a conference in the Fall of 2012, Wall St., Main Street, and Cyber Street all started to get more comfortable with the Facebook story.

Analysts and investors are backing away from their worries about mobile use cannibalizing online advertising revenues. The company's effort to move away from an interdependence upon Zynga, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) has been viewed as a good thing. Its partnership and ties to Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) and the possibilities out there with Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) all bring up more opportunity than fear as of now.

Facebook has already risen 73% in its share price from the post-IPO low. What is almost as impressive is that the stock closed out 2012 at $26.62, and that means that at $30.35 its stock is already worth 14% more right now than it was at the end of 2012. But back to that valuation question…

Thomson Reuters has a consensus price target of $31.96. It is certain that analysts will continue to raise their price target objectives if the stock remains strong ahead of earnings season. That being said, it seems that an implied upside of only about 5.3%. It takes a special kind of investor to invest in a company like Facebook if they think that they are only going to get 5.3% upside.

We would go back again to say that analysts will likely raise their price target objectives on Facebook. That may help investors who want to get back in but it also shows just how wrong Wall Street was on this controversial stock. Sell on the way down and buy on the way up! It is a classic way that the universe have of taking your hard-earned money and burning it right before your eyes.

A day before Christmas we saw that Needham & Co. maintained its Buy rating and lifted its target price to $33 from $25 for the stock. At the tail end of December BMO Capital raised its rating to Outperform and lifted its target from $15 to $32. Stifel Nicolaus also at the end of December lifted its target to $31 from $26. So far this month we have seen that Cowen & Co. started the stock with a Neutral rating.

Rosecliff Capital's Mike Murphy said Wednesday on CNBC that the stock was likely going to go back to $38 this year (in 2013). Keep in mind that Facebook came public at $38.00 last year. The IPO was sloppy from the start to finish and it has only been a couple of months since the attitude is that Facebook is a real business again rather than a place where million of people waste too much time each day.

We won't expect that logic will break momentum, but this is one that investors who have missed the boat might want to slowly leg into rather than chasing it indefinitely. There now appears to be more risk than reward.

And what about rival LinkedIn Corporation (NYSE: LNKD)? Its shares have not made out as well Facebook as the $112.75 price today compares to a share price of $114.82 on the last day of 2012.

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