Facebook has potential as an e-commerce platform

Author: Barry Randall, Crabtree Asset Management

Covestor model: Crabtree Technology

Covestor money manager Barry Randall, chief investment officer at Crabtree Asset Management LLC, weighed in on the debate among analysts about the prospects for social network site Facebook ahead of its initial public offering.

Randall told msnnbc.com that while Facebook’s growth has slowed, its long-range potential as a platform for e-commerce and other services is robust.

“Growth is decelerating, but it’s decelerating from enormous down to large,” Randall said, responding to a question about Facebook’s recent decline in quarterly profits. “Its major problem now is managing people’s expectations.”

However, Facebook’s 900 million-plus user base is an asset that has yet to be fully realized, according to Randall. It is already a platform for apps and networks like BranchOut, he says.

“They’ll monetize it by allowing smaller companies to build businesses on top of their database and eventually charge them for doing so,” Randall predicts, adding the site has a promising business in the sale of virtual goods and may be able to sell physical goods down the road.

Facebook’s shares are set to begin trading under the symbol FB on the Nasdaq Stock Market.