Facebook hits record as growth optimism continues to build

Facebook Inc. shares hit a record on Monday, with the social-media company taking out a peak that has stood since August as fears fade about the impact of new privacy policies from Apple Inc.

The stock rose as much as 3% Monday to touch an intraday record of $307.73. Facebook has gained about 20% off a recent low and has added about 12% thus far this year, outperforming the Nasdaq 100 Index.

Major technology and Internet stocks have broadly performed well this year. Of the so-called FAAMG names — a group that also includes Apple, Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Google-parent Alphabet Inc. — Amazon is the only one that hasn’t hit an intraday record in 2021.

Facebook’s recent gains came after Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg downplayed the risk that the social-media company could see as a result of an upcoming change to Apple’s privacy policies. That issue was seen as a headwind, and a reason that Facebook warned of “significant uncertainty” in 2021 earlier this year.

The company also got a positive mention in Barron’s over the weekend, which said Facebook is a “growth machine” and its stock could gain 20% if it returns to the average premium it’s traded at for the past five years.

Analysts remain broadly positive on Facebook’s growth prospects, especially amid a recovery in the market for digital ads.

Morgan Stanley recently touted Facebook’s valuation and fundamental strength, and forecast “sustained outsized growth.”

Of the firms tracked by Bloomberg that cover Facebook, more than 85% recommend buying the stock, while fewer than 6% have a bearish rating. The average price target is $336, which implies upside of roughly 10%.

Facebook is scheduled to report first-quarter results later this month. Wall Street is expecting both earnings per share and revenue to rise more than 30%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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