Morgan Stanley: It Looks Like Facebook Is Shrugging Off SnapChat

The social media stalwart continues to grow user engagement.

Mark Zuckerberg.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Facebook Inc.'s Mark Zuckerberg might not need to worry about Snapchat Inc., according to fresh analysis published by Morgan Stanley.

When Snapchat decided not to take up Facebook's $3 billion acquisition offer in 2013, many thought the company made a mistake — to put it mildly. But 150 million daily active users later, some are arguing that the social media upstart poses a major threat to its larger rival, Facebook, as it snaps up teenage users. Just last month, Andrew Left of Citron Research told Bloomberg that Facebook is "losing their relevancy" and "anyone who has a teen knows you can’t discount the relevancy of Snapchat." 

Brian Nowak, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley thinks Left is wrong, and that while Snapchat will continue to be popular, Facebook investors need not worry so. 

"Analysis of Facebook daily user growth shows strong — and inflecting — second quarter engagement, despite Snapchat concerns," he wrote. "We don't believe Snapchat is having a material impact on Facebook's engagement or daily active user (DAU) growth."

In fact, some of his analysis shows that Facebook is continuing to see growth in the coveted 18-24 and 25-34 year-old base. The 18-24 group in particular is important, given that the younger demographics tend to be large users of Snapchat. 

Here's a look at the usage rates across Facebook (in green), Snapchat (blue), Twitter Inc. (yellow) and Instagram Inc. (in orange). While Instagram and Twitter are seeing little growth, Facebook and Snapchat both saw active users tick higher. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 8.49.24 AM
Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley has a price target of $140 on Facebook which is still less than the $144 average across Wall Street analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. There is only one "sell" rating on its shares, from Societe Generale SA's Simon Baker, who has a price target of $80.

Facebook is  currently trading at $121 per share and reports earnings after the market close on Wednesday. 

Correction: an earlier version misstated the second age range as 25-24 rather than 25-34. 

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