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Two New Big Drivers for Facebook to All-Time Highs

Jon C. Ogg

Facebook Inc. (FB) has managed a miracle turnaround from what was nothing short of a disastrous initial public offering. Mark Zuckerberg has turned into a chief executive officer looking at ways to grow the company and to make more profits rather than just making a cooler product. And now two research firms have added more support to this major growth engine that is leading social media.

The first driver is that Citigroup raised its rating to Buy from Hold, and more important is that it raised its price target to $55 from $32. That may seem like a change of heart almost too good to be true, or maybe too late to the party. Citigroup's excitement is around the monetization aspects and improvements in mobile use.

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A second driver is a research note from Sterne Agee in which analyst Arvind Bhatia says that Facebook is getting its foot in the door in China with the lifting of the ban that is currently limited to the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. He has reiterated his Buy rating and $50 price target.

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A third benefit, which is tied back to Citigroup's research call, is that Facebook likely will be added to the S&P 500 Index by the end of 2013.

We would point out that some cracks are starting to appear in some social media aspects. We pointed out the departure of men in their 30s who are closing their Facebook accounts, and the cracks that may be growing elsewhere in social media as well. Yet note that Facebook still is expected to double its revenues from 2012 by 2014 or early 2015, so some of the cracks may not even be speed bumps.

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Shares hit a new high, rising more than 3% to $48.82 right after the opening bell on Tuesday.

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