Facebook (FB) may have just gotten its greatest gift in the form of an Apple (AAPL) iPhone, and that is additional real estate with a larger iPhone to include better and more efficient advertising, allowing the company to monetize mobile. Facebook isn't the only company that the larger iPhone will benefit, but it is definitely the most watched. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke publicly for the first time since the company's IPO disaster -- and the stock has since performed well. As a result, Facebook may finally be worth watching.
In the past, with an overvalued price and no clear pathway to growth, it was hard to find any positives for this company as an investment. Granted, the stock is still expensive but it is nowhere near the price of fellow social networking company LinkedIn (LNKD), as Facebook's decline has made it one of the cheapest in terms of valuation in the social networking or web-based companies within the industry. When Zuckerberg makes mention of a more effective advertising strategy and whispers the idea of a search function, it makes investors take notice. Due to Facebook's large user base, the company could grow significantly faster if these two areas are properly explored and executed.
In the CEO's presentation, he said one thing that I found very encouraging, which was, "Facebook's recently released mobile ads are already delivering better results for advertisers than the traditional 'display' ads that appear on the right-hand side of the social networking service on PCs." This means that the company may have figured "it" out… "It" meaning mobile. The majority of Facebook's revenue comes from advertising, and with mobile usage growing rapidly it could lead to much faster growth for the internet company.
Now for the big news, this could be more important to Facebook than any other company: the larger screen on the new iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 is slimmer, lighter, but is also larger with a fifth row of application icons and a longer docking row at the bottom of the device. Sure, an upgrade to the appearance and a new design for Apple is necessary for consumers to continue buying, but it is also important for companies, such as Facebook, that are trying to monetize mobile with advertising while still giving the user the same experience. I know that with my iPhone 4, I get frustrated when trying to browse apps, such as the CNBC real-time app, and I constantly touch ads (by accident). With the new iPhone, companies such as Facebook will be able to keep its formatting and the size of the display, but also add either additional ads or make ads larger-- hence, creating more revenue per user. So indirectly, Apple may have just given Facebook a clear cut path to monetizing mobile, especially since Zuckerberg has already said that the new mobile ads have been more effective in their early stages.
If Facebook can finally monetize mobile, is it worth buying? This may be the $50 billion question. I think the fact that Zuckerberg said new mobile ads are delivering better results than PC ads is encouraging. That, combined with more advertising space, makes it seem sensible that Facebook would see larger revenue from its mobile segment. The stock isn't as expensive as you might think; its forward ratio is just 32.75, which is three times the value of LinkedIn and about 15 times the value of Yelp (YELP), in regard to earnings. It is also 50% cheaper than LinkedIn or Yelp in price/sales. Combined, this makes Facebook somewhat of a value investment within this particular industry. If the company has finally found a clear growth strategy in a fast-growing segment (mobile), then the upside is large for this company, in part thanks to Apple.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in FB over the next 72 hours.