Facebook Inc. (FB) investors may be starting to wish CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress more often.
Over the course of Zuckerberg’s 11 hours of Congressional testimony over the past two days, Facebook’s market cap increased by about $17.3 billion — or roughly $1.57 billion an hour. Facebook shares rose 0.8% Wednesday overall after declining slightly before Zuckerberg began answering questions in the mid-morning. Together with Tuesday’s 4.5% spike, Facebook shares have now pared their year-to-date losses to 5.8%.
In appearing before Congress for the first time after repeated calls from lawmakers to testify, Zuckerberg fielded a gauntlet of questions about Cambridge Analytica, data privacy, Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, censorship political bias and possible regulation of the social media giant.
Pinar Yildirim, an assistant professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said that Zuckerberg was more confident and comfortable during his second day of testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
The issues that were brought up by House members on Wednesday all centered around the fact that “Facebook is so dominant, and has so much control,” Yildirim said.
There was also a “noticeable uptick” in the relevancy of questions asked by lawmakers today, Loup Ventures managing partner Gene Munster said in an email.
“Congress seemed a bit more informed, but many of them were still pretty shockingly out of touch,” Munster said.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Zuckerberg told lawmakers that regulation is “inevitable” but that they have to be careful what kind of regulation it is, Munster noted.
Yale School of Management professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld said that Zuckerberg has gotten away with “a C-minus performance evaluated as a B+ or an A-” because lawmakers were uninformed and asked naive questions with no opportunity for follow-up.
“[Today’s hearing] was as un-satisfying as yesterday’s,” Sonnenfeld said. “The legislators have virtually no technical background and such a generational gap that they don’t understand critical issues.”
Oppenheimer analyst Jason Helfstein wrote in a note to investors on Tuesday that Zuckerberg “appeared well-prepared and delivered his answers in a congenial manner, while most of the Senators in attendance didn’t seem to have a granular enough understanding of the issue to move past surface-level issues.”
“He once again confirmed there has been no large change in usage related to the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, in line with our expectations,” Helfstein wrote.
While stock analysts and investors have seen Zuckerberg’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica scandal as encouraging and competent, Sonnenfeld said it has been “a horrible model of crisis response — and shameful.”
“We didn’t need that sort of grandstanding [from Congress],” he said. “We needed informed investigative questioning.”
Facebook is a holding in Jim Cramer’s Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells FB? Learn more now.