Of the companies releasing their earnings reports this week, few were as anxiously anticipated as Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB). The thing is, from day one, I never understood what the big deal was. Facebook essentially discovered that a market research firm misused their members’ data for political purposes. As a result, the markets punished FB stock.
Thus, the bears were circling the social media giant prior to its first quarter release. I suppose they were hoping that further leaks or scandals would be exposed. Unfortunately for short traders, the only thing that got exposed was their emotionally-fueled positions. As is typically the case in such situations, Facebook delivered monstrous results, sending FB stock to the moon.
And, no, my characterization is not hyperbole. Against a $1.35 earnings-per-share consensus estimate, FB stock delivered $1.69, or a 25% positive surprise. The company also delivered very solid revenue results, hauling in $11.97 billion against an $11.4 billion consensus target. More importantly, sales exceeded the year-ago quarter tally of $8.03 billion by a massive 49%.
During the immediate volatility following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, many investors wondered: Should I buy Facebook stock now? In hindsight, of course, the answer is a resounding “yes.” But even with this recent bout of bullishness, I’m still optimistic about FB stock.
Part of the reason is that the overriding negativity was based on irrational politics. Look, I get it: most Americans aren’t happy with President Trump. But to try to frame Cambridge as a conduit for Russian trolls to swing the election is, frankly, infantile.
Perhaps the Russians meddled in our election, but who did the actual voting? Worse yet, who stayed at home because they thought Hillary Clinton would win in a landslide?
Blame American apathy, not Facebook stock.
Getting Back to the Fundamentals for FB stock
Ironically, Americans don’t seem very apathetic about the consequences of their apathy. When the scandal initially sparked, the #DeleteFacebook movement started in earnest. What was funny was that when it mattered the least, people showed up.
But this political dynamic perfectly demonstrates that FB bears were thinking emotionally, not rationally. Based on their Q1 earnings report, the social media firm boosted monthly active users (MAUs) to just under 2.2 billion. In other words, if a million users left Facebook due to moral outrage, management wouldn’t care.
Heck, let a few million people go! The company’s enormous reach means that several countries’ populations must exit before Facebook feels the pain. I’m not sure if this is the awaited recovery for FB stock; what I do know is that, eventually, a decisive, long-term recovery will inevitably occur.
All you have to do is to look at the MAU growth. As everyone knows, social media firms live or die based on eyeballs and engagement. Despite being the biggest such company in the world by a country mile, Facebook has superior growth.
I’m not sure why this concept isn’t a bigger story. Due to its much smaller user base, Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) and Snap Inc (NYSE:SNAP) benefit heavily from the law of small numbers. As the younger companies that offer a viable alternative, they should produce double-digit growth like nothing.
Instead, it’s FB that’s doing the growing, while its rivals are doing the slowing. For instance, since the second-half of 2015, Twitter has slipped to single-digit year-over-year MAU growth, averaging a pedestrian 4.7%. On the other hand, Facebook averaged 15.6% over the same time frame.
I cannot emphasize enough how dominant Facebook stock truly is. At a time when the company should be maturing, its throttling its upstart opponents!
Without Speed Bumps, It’s Lights Out for the Competition
InvestorPlace contributor Nicolas Chahine brought up a very interesting point about the recent data scandal. He rightfully states that the issue is a domestic one. Generally speaking, non-Americans don’t give a hoot about an election that happened nearly a year-and-a-half ago.
That’s a problem for the Facebook-haters because #DeleteFacebook never had a chance. The rest of the world wants to move forward. It’s only we Americans that just can’t let it go. This is fine: we have the freedom to whine and complain should we choose. But at the same time, it’s unwise to let childish emotions guide our investment decisions.
Whether you voted for “The Donald” or not, my argument for FB stock is simple: look at the numbers! Facebook is succeeding in areas where it shouldn’t. Twitter and Snapchat are failing when they should be rising.
If that doesn’t convince you to believe in FB, nothing will.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforemen