Alliance Bernstein named Meta Platforms a top pick, saying the stock could surge more than 50% from here. Wall Street is too negative on the stock ahead of a critical earnings season, analyst Mark Shmulik said, as he reiterated Meta at an outperform rating, but lowered his price target. Shares of Meta are down roughly 62% this year. “The bear case is loud: No one uses Facebook anymore! The next Yahoo! Lighting money on fire for a metaverse dream that will never happen!” he wrote in a Thursday note. “But we see light beyond the dark and complicated headlines. And in an investment universe lacking high conviction ideas, we move Meta to our top pick.” The analyst said he doesn’t “need to prove out the bull case for the stock to work,” saying that Meta can simply report better than feared numbers showing it’s getting back on track. Meta needs to show improving user engagement numbers across its social media platforms, outline how it will lower expense growth, and improve its revenue trajectory, according to the note. “We aren’t apologists nor blinded optimists,” Shmulik wrote. “There’s evidence to support that all three legs to the bear case have been overdone and over-hyped. If others point to Yahoo as the worst case scenario, we offer Microsoft to balance out the scale.” The analyst pointed out that Meta remains a “key pillar” in digital advertising, as it holds roughly 25% market share, even as it faces rising competition from Google , Amazon and others. The firm’s new price target is $195, down from $230. The new price target represents roughly 52.9% upside from Wednesday’s closing price of $127.50. Still, the stock dropped 3.3% in trading Thursday, amid a broader slump in the market. Meta will report third-quarter results after market close on Oct. 26. —CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.
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