Facebook analyst: Sell to buy in 2 monthsJuly 26, 2012: 11:21 AM ET
Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser was the first analyst to assign a "sell" rating on Facebook back in May, when the social media day giant made its big (botched) public debut.
Later that month, as Facebook's stock declined and fell below his then price target of $30 per share, Wieser changed his rating to "hold."
But given the recent slide in Facebook's shares ahead of the company's first earnings report Thursday afternoon, Wieser is now recommending his clients buy the stock.
Wieser's change of tune comes as Facebook (FB) shares tumbled almost 7% Thursday to around $27 a share in the wake of Zynga's earnings miss and slashed outlook. Zynga (ZNGA) is part of Facebook's payments business, which accounts for 18% of Facebook's revenue. Weakness at Zynga sparks worries that Facebook's bottom line could also suffer.
"Decelerating growth at Zynga is not directly concerning to us," wrote Wieser in a research note to clients Thursday. "Our model for Facebook already accounted for decelerating payments growth."
So the fact that there is now an almost 20% gap between Facebook's current stock price and Wieser's July price target of $33 makes the stock a buying opportunity.
Wieser added that Zynga partly attributed the slowdown to changes on Facebook's platform. While the alternations ultimately hurt Zynga's bottom line, they may have helped other gaming companies on Facebook generate higher revenue, which, in turn, would also be reflected in Facebook's revenue.
Facebook is slated to release its first earnings report as a public company after the stock market closes later today.
Analysts expect Facebook's second-quarter revenue to come in around $1.15 billion and that it will earn 12 cents per share before certain charges, according to Thomson Reuters.