There are tons of stocks that have suffered major pullbacks this year, but one of the best-looking among the crop has got to be Meta Platforms (Meta Platforms Stock Quote, Charts, News, Analysts, Financials NASDAQ:META). That’s according to portfolio manager Bruce Murray, who just named the Facebook parent company one of his Top Picks for the 12 months ahead.
June has been another sorry month for stocks, as the market continues to pound on equities amid the wider backdrop of a shaky economy, rising interest rates and especially skyrocketing inflation. The S&P 500 Index is currently down about 7.5 per cent for June alone, with the year-to-date hanging around a 20 per cent loss in value. The tech-heavy NASDAQ has been worse, with the June performance also at negative 7.5 per cent while the index is down a full 29 per cent for the year so far.
The losses have a lot to do with Big Tech, which starting this past November has gone severely out of fashion with investors looking for more defensive postures in the market. And while there have been other ebb periods for tech stocks over the years, the current state of affairs has been decidedly rough on names like Alphabet, Netflix, Amazon and Meta Platforms, all of which are down well into the double digits and, due to their huge weighting in indices like the S&P, have been an outsized factor in the overall market declines this year.
For Meta, which currently sports a market capitalization of about $430 billion, the losses have been huge. Going back to this past September, the stock was hanging around the $380 per share mark but fast forward to the present and we’re at about $160 — that’s a 58 per cent drop in value.
But Murray says investors should be focusing on Facebook’s fundamentals, which are still quite impressive. Murray said his nod to Meta Platforms is based on the premise that the market has great value right now and is heading for higher heights over the next 12 months.
“[Meta’s] stock has been cut in half in the last nine months and people love to hate Facebook for 1,000 reasons that I won’t get into, but it’s now selling at 12x 2023’ earnings,” said Murray, CEO of the Murray Wealth Group, who spoke on BNN Bloomberg on Tuesday.
“It’s a global leader in these apps like Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp — they’re all well known to us and we believe will continue to propel Meta’s revenue growth forward by at least 15 per cent. And so, you’ve got a company selling at 12x earnings growing 15 per cent that has no debt and a massive profit margin. And they’ve got $60 billion of cash on the balance sheet, so they can go out and start buying back stock.”
Part of Meta’s struggles as a stock are likely attributed to its gamble on the metaverse, where the company is pouring billions of dollars in R&D in a bid to be one of the first movers as a real virtual reality platform. Meta ditched its Facebook moniker last fall with the aim of pumping out more augmented and VR hardware and software to bring users on board with what it clearly sees as the future of not only tech but commerce and lived experience as a whole.
“Today we are seen as a social media company, but in our DNA we are a company that builds technology to connect people, and the metaverse is the next frontier just like social networking was when we got started,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a press release this past October to mark the rebranding.
Since then, however, Meta has been a disappointment as a stock, punctuated by market reaction to its quarterly earnings in February which came with muted guidance from management. The company said revenue growth in 2022 would slow to between three and 11 per cent, a marked contrast to previous years where Facebook and its related platforms were consistently growing by 20 per cent or more per year on aggregate.
Murray says investors need to realize that the real impact of Meta’s AR and VR play may still be years into the future, and so patience is in order.
“The metaverse is an incredible opportunity but it could still be as much as a decade away. But if they managed to be the leader of that it’s going to be a huge home run,” Murray said.
“We believe the stock can the sharply recover when confidence returns over the next 12 months. The average target price even by the Street analysts is $290, which is 70 per cent higher than today’s price,” he said.