Is Facebook the new Google or Amazon?

We may be approaching Facebook‘s (NASDAQ: FB) “no mas” moment.

Bernstein research analyst Carlos Kirjner is the latest Wall Street pro to warm up to the world’s leading social networking website operator, raising his rating from market perform to outperform.

His new US$33 price target — while still well short of May’s US$38 IPO price — is still a hearty 38% pop from where the stock closed over the weekend.

Kirjner’s thesis isn’t all that different than some of the recent newfound bullishness. Mobile, long believed to be a major challenge for the company, may be a monetisation goldmine.

The early success of Sponsored Stories — where Facebook is wedging advertiser status updates into users’ Newsfeeds — is forcing many sceptics to reconsider what the smartphone migration will do for Facebook’s business.

Earlier this year, Facebook was at the mercy of the display advertising that appears as a column on the right of the site’s PC platform and the revenue that it was receiving from Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA) gaming titles. Growing consumption of Facebook on mobile devices was a threat to both of these moneymakers. Screens are too small on smartphones for a second column of ads alongside the Facebook newsfeeds, and gamers could just download Zynga apps and cut out the social networking middleman.

The Facebook upside doesn’t end there. The company rolled out Facebook Exchange — a marketplace that does to its display ads what Google‘s (NASDAQ: GOOG) AdWords does for paid search by introducing competitive bidding and cookie-based targeting — just two months ago. Facebook Gifts continues to pad its arsenal of merchants ahead of its official launch.

In other words, instead of comparing Facebook to MySpace, Friendster, and other failed social networking websites, the market’s starting to see the company as the next Google or (NASDAQ: AMZN).

Facebook now has more than a billion active users, and the data that it’s collecting and connections that users have established give it the potential to be better than either company.

Amazon’s recommendation engine knows you, but it doesn’t know your friends and family. It doesn’t know what they’re into. It doesn’t know when their birthdays come around. Facebook’s all over that, and it’s the biggest reason why retailers will continue to flock to Facebook Gifts to drum up incremental business.

On the search and online advertising front, Facebook’s sticky ways naturally give it advantages over Google when it comes to display marketing, but as soon as Facebook incorporates friend data into its search box — and it will — it will raise the bar on search.

It’s not a surprise to see Kirjner targeting revenue at Facebook that is far higher than Wall Street’s consensus. He sees what a growing number of bulls are starting to see: Facebook is bigger than even its lofty market cap suggests.

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A version of this article, written by Rick Aristotle Munarriz, originally appeared on


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