New report pegs Facebook valuation at $12 billion

A week after a report by Facebook investor Elevation Partners pegged the social network’s value at $23 billion, a report by pre-IPO analysts Next Up Research has reached only half that amount. Even so, the report says a lot for Facebook’s future.

Next Up’s report is hosted by SharesPost, a trading site for pre-IPO sales similar to Second Market, which brokered $100 million in Facebook employee stock sales to Russian investment firm Digital Sky Technologies. Next Up performs pre-IPO share price analysis for SharesPost.

In this case, $12 billion is about 15 times Facebook’s trailing revenue for 2009. That seems perfectly reasonable when compared to Google, which the New York Times’ Dealbook blog notes went public at 14 times its trailing revenue in 2004.

BusinessWeek claims to have reliable sourcing that Elevation’s estimated $210 million investments in Facebook valued the site at an average $14 billion.

Next Up calculated a steady-state EV/revenue multiple of $12.5 billion, and a comparative EV/revenue multiple of $11.1 billion.

Next Up’s investment thesis is strikingly bullish on Facebook, as shown by this chart of Next Up’s membership estimates for the top social networks.Next Up analysts also claim that Facebook ad traffic is soaring, overtaking and leaving behind former ad-impressions champ Yahoo in the first quarter of this year.

By 2014, Next Up’s analysts claim, the U.S. social media marketing sector will grow from last year’s $700 million to $3.1 billion. As an example, they cite P&G’s Facebook page for Pampers diapers, on which they estimate P&G has spent half a million dollars.

Is there a threat to Facebook’s insane growth? Yes there is, say the report’s writers. Emerging nations other than India and Brazil aren’t big on Facebook. The site barely has a presence in the former Soviet Union countries. China blocks the site entirely.

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