Mark Zuckerberg’s attorney advises him to be humble during a deposition in a suit brought by his Harvard University classmates Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who feel they are entitled to a substantive share of Facebook.
But Zuckerberg can’t help himself during this scene from the 2010 movie The Social Network.
What a difference a decade or so makes…
If you just had to go on his image in The Social Network, you’d think Zuckerberg is a total jerk.
Based on the early days of what eventually became Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB), the movie portrayed Zuckerberg as not only brilliant – but also as an egomaniac with a talent for making enemies.
But during two crucial days of testimony on Capitol Hill in mid-April, the tech titan came across as smooth, confident, and straightforward. He answered a series of pointed questions with such aplomb that I couldn’t help but sit and listen to his testimony and think, “Wow this guy is good.”
I also thought, “Facebook stock is going to survive this bout of controversy just fine.”
And now, after the top social network company’s recent blowout first quarter, I’ve updated my Facebook share-price prediction…
A few years back – when Facebook was in the doghouse – I predicted it would double.
And it did.
Now Facebook is caught in a scandal and in disfavor again.
But it’s going to double again from here – and more quickly than you think.
Zuckerberg Grows Up
Perhaps being married and having two kids has mellowed him out. Or maybe the movie just overemphasized this facet of Zuckerberg’s personality.
Fact is, the reality of how Zuckerberg behaves these days is much different than how he comes across in the movie.
I say that because before Zuckerberg went to Washington for two days of testimony on the misuse of Facebook user data during the 2016 election by a third party, I had a bad feeling. Frankly, I thought the billionaire wunderkind would get hoisted on his own petard.
Instead, he managed to run rings around some of the nation’s more powerful politicians – but still come across as humble and polite. For the most part, he also was forthright.
Yes, I was surprised to hear him say it, but I believe he did the right thing in telling a U.S. Senate panel he was fine with facing more federal regulation.
Maybe he’s looking at the same political scorecard I am – because I don’t think he has anything to worry about regulation-wise in the near term.
With the midterm elections approaching, it will be difficult to get any type of legislation through Congress that cracks down on Facebook or other tech leaders.
But let’s be clear on this. It was a make- or-break moment for Zuckerberg.
And he came out of it in great shape.
Then again, controversy is nothing new to this maverick leader.
To see what I mean, let’s travel back in time to a report I posted here at Strategic Tech Investor back in March 2014…
“The Last Laugh”
At the time, Zuckerberg had become a Wall Street laughingstock after paying $19 billion for WhatsApp. That 5-year-old startup had just $20 million in sales and a mere 55 employees.
But here’s what I said: “Zuckerberg will have the last laugh here. And if you follow my recommendation… so will you.”
It was a bold call. Wall Street hated the stock at the time, and it was in the tank.
However, I looked at the numbers and calculated that FB would roughly double in price to about $140 in as little as 2.5 years.
I was a little off. Almost three years to the day after that report, on March 20, 2017, folks who took advantage of my initial call had doubled their money.
And from there, they went on to reach peak gains of 186%.
And now here we are, in a similar situation.
But while Facebook does face some political and scandal-related headwinds, it is in terrific financial shape.
Take a look…
A 1Q Home Run
Simply stated, Facebook’s first-quarter results were a blowout.
That’s why shares soared more than 9% on April 26 on volume that was more than twice its 50-day moving average.
Indeed, once again it literally paid to look beyond the headlines.
This time around it wasn’t about a big merger but the political controversy surrounding the firm’s role in the 2016 elections that had so many investors on edge.
It’s easy to see why. Facebook sold user data to Cambridge Analytica, a U.K. concern. In turn, Cambridge supplied information Donald Trump’s presidential campaign relied upon for targeted marketing.
While this has caused a stir among the nation’s media elite, it was largely ho-hum for the public. That’s especially true for Facebook’s legion of users.
The #DeleteFacebook Twitter campaign that sprung up weeks ago appears to be going nowhere.
And no wonder.
Facebook is essential.
Sure, Facebook has lost some users – and it will likely lose some more every time a scandal flames up – but it won’t be in droves.
Plus, the company has a plan to make even more money on its installed user base. It is now selling advertisers the ability to have their ads appear higher on users’ feeds.
That premium pricing already seems to be having a big impact. Just look at Facebook’s first-quarter earnings. Total sales in the period jumped 49%, to nearly $12 billion, beating forecasts.
Even better, diluted earnings came in at $1.69 a share, up 63% and crushing analysts’ predictions of $1.35 a share. The result means that Facebook’s earnings are now growing 28% faster than sales.
Facebook also said it ended the quarter with 1.45 billion daily active users, a one-year increase of 13%. It had 2.2 billion monthly active users, also up 13%.
And it hasn’t stopped innovating – or intimidating its competitors.
Just this week, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is entering the online dating market. And shares of Tinder/Match.com parent company Match Group Inc. (NYSE: MTCH) immediately plunged 20%.
In other words, despite all the controversy, Facebook is simply on fire. Yes, user growth could slow a bit here at home, but I don’t see that happening overseas.
And even if that does happen, Facebook has proven that it can boost margins while competing with other social networks like Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP) and Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR).
So, the question now is: How quickly will the next double come?
Over the past three years, Facebook has grown earnings on average more than 100%. That figure is likely to slow, but even if we cut that rate in half to 50%, we’re still looking at a double in as little as 18 months.
But just to be conservative, let’s give it more time to hit that target and say it will occur roughly 36 from now.
That’s not long to wait to double your money.
And it makes Facebook the kind of market crusher that can really help you build your net worth.
When the stock does hit my target, you can be sure I’ll be boasting about it… not just here, but with a post on Facebook.
— Michael Robinson
Source: Strategic Tech Investor