Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ) has been on an asset-buying spree and, as a result, the company's competitive advantages are stronger than ever. The social media giant enjoys very high operating margins due to its scalable business. Facebook's various assets are very early in their monetization life cycle, and the company has a phenomenal position in mobile devices. These factors will drive Facebook's earnings to big increases in the years ahead.
Mobile is the key driver
The reacceleration in Facebook's top-line revenue in the last quarter was primarily due to the explosive growth in mobile. Additionally, Facebook saw significant growth in advertiser demand, evidenced by the company's ad pricing. Last quarter, Facebook's total ad impressions decreased 17% year over year, but the average price per ad increased 118% year over year. So, Facebook is continuing to sell fewer News Feed ads at higher prices, compared to lower-priced ads on the right-hand rail of its platform. As a result, Facebook will be able to increase its ad load in the future because the company reduced them in Q1 2014.
In the last quarter, mobile ad revenue made up 59% of Facebook's total revenue, as more consumers are accessing the site from mobile devices. Plus, the company is very well-positioned to get a large chunk of the mobile advertising space, along with Google (NASDAQ: GOOG ) (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) and Twitter (NYSE: TWTR ) . Facebook finished last quarter with a whopping 1.01 billion mobile MAUs and, thus, the company's mobile advertising fortunes are expected to do even better.
In 2012, Facebook had only 5.4% of the total mobile advertising market, with Google getting the lion's share. According to eMarketer, Facebook's market share is poised to increase to 21.7% in 2014, and Twitter, another mobile ad-driven company, should have 2.6% of the $31.5 billion mobile ad market.
Invaluable portfolio of assets
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has made the most of the company's stock price with a number of acquisitions that will not only hedge Facebook's competitive position, but also widen its moat in the long run. Instagram is immensely popular among younger demographics and has more than 200 million users. Like Facebook, Instagram is constantly adding products that extensively engage users and keep them using the photo-sharing app.
Instagram has come up with newer products, like Instagram Direct, that keep consumers tuned into its platform. Instagram recently signed a $100 million deal with Omnicom, which could be the beginning of a long runway of monetization for the photo app. There is usually a time lag between usage growth scaling and monetization scaling, and once Instagram grows into a much bigger company, monetization will likely gain momentum.
WhatsApp continues to see explosive growth in its user base with more than 500 million users, and should start seeing momentum in its subscription-based revenue model (after a year-long trial, users must pay $0.99 per year to continue using the app). Even if only 40% of WhatsApp's users reach the expiration of their free trial and pay the annual subscription fee, that translates into roughly $200 million per year in revenue for Facebook. Plus, as WhatsApp grows into a much bigger asset to the tune of 1 billion users, that subscription revenue has the potential to be a much larger portion of Facebook's total revenue.
Oculus was a relatively strange acquisition for Facebook, but if virtual reality is indeed the next big thing, then Facebook already has a presence in the space. While the company didn't have a product out, yet, it is expected to have one soon. Facebook might be able to do something worthwhile with Oculus' virtual reality platform by integrating it with its own social network, but that remains to be seen.
Long runway of growth
Facebook's strong revenue growth and high operating margins in its various businesses will lead to robust EPS growth. The company has numerous future revenue drivers for the next two years, including video ads, Instagram, mobile ad network, and WhatsApp.
Facebook currently trades for 36.1 times its 2015 consensus EPS estimates of $1.83, which isn't cheap. But, considering the company's last quarterly revenue growth of 72%, that sounds like a reasonable valuation. Plus, in the current quarter, sell-side analysts are expecting top-line estimates of $2.8 billion, which implies 54% year-over-year revenue growth. Facebook should be able to maintain these extremely impressive revenue growth rates once its large number of revenue drivers start kicking in from early 2015.
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