Facebook shares surge as mobile ads click

Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:49pm EST
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By Supantha Mukherjee

(Reuters) - Facebook Inc's shares rose as much as 17 percent to a life-high after the company's resounding revenue growth underscored CEO Mark Zuckerberg's success in selling ad space on the social network's mobile app.

At least 32 brokerages raised their price targets on Facebook's shares, which touched a high of $62.50 in midday trading on Thursday.

If the gains hold to close, this would be the largest single-day rise in Facebook's stock since July 2013. The company would have added about $20 billion to its market capitalization of $136 billion, putting it among the top 20 in the S&P 500 index.

The highest price target among the 32 brokerages was $82, which would value the world's largest social network at more than $200 billion.

Facebook's fourth-quarter revenue rose to $2.585 billion from $1.585 billion in the year-ago period, beating analysts' average expectation of $2.33 billion.

"After disappointing earnings from large-cap internet stocks like eBay and Yahoo, it was refreshing to see FB crush Q4 consensus estimates, with accelerating trends in its core advertising business," CRT Capital analyst Neil Doshi wrote.

Facebook said on Wednesday revenue from mobile ads represented 53 percent of its total fourth-quarter advertising revenue, up from 49 percent in the third quarter.

While the total number of ad impressions on Facebook declined 8 percent, some analysts attributed that to the company's shift to mobile and focused instead on the near-doubling of ad pricing in the last year.   Continued...

A portrait of the Facebook logo in Ventura, California December 21, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer