Meta Platforms Revives in 2023 with Impressive Gains

BATS:META   Meta Platforms
Meta Platforms Revives in 2023 with Impressive Gains

After a lackluster performance in 2022, Meta Platforms, previously known as Facebook, has made a remarkable comeback in 2023. The company's shares have surged by approximately 162%, a stark contrast to the previous year when the stock saw a decline of over 64%. These gains are over 13 times the returns of the S&P 500, demonstrating the magnitude of Meta's resurgence.

The primary driving force behind Meta's 2023 success is its return to revenue growth after several quarters of decline. Additionally, Meta Platforms has harnessed the power of artificial intelligence (AI), which holds promising implications for its future.

Investors who remained on the sidelines during Meta's resurgence now face a crucial decision. They must weigh the allure of potential further gains against concerns about the stock's high valuation and the uncertainties within the digital advertising industry. Let's delve deeper into this conundrum.

The economic challenges that dominated the headlines in the previous year took a toll on many companies, and Meta Platforms was no exception. In times of economic uncertainty, marketers often cut back on advertising spending, which can be quickly adjusted. Meta Platforms, as a company heavily reliant on digital advertising across its social media platforms and the world's second-largest online advertiser, with a 20% market share, felt the brunt of this impact.

While most technology companies faced challenges during this period, the decline in ad spending led Meta to report three consecutive quarters of year-over-year revenue declines, a first in its history. Understandably, investors grew concerned, and the most risk-averse among them chose to exit the stock. However, as it turns out, their cautious approach proved costly as Meta Platforms made a strong comeback this year. The rebound in digital advertising has fueled significant gains for investors.

Yet, it's important to note that this recovery is still in its early stages. In the second quarter of the year, Meta reported an 11% year-over-year growth in revenue and a 21% increase in earnings per share, positioning the company for potential record-high sales and profits.

What sets Meta apart is its commitment to embracing cutting-edge technology, particularly Generative AI. While AI has been integral to the company for various purposes, it now plans to apply these advanced algorithms to enhance its digital advertising efforts. Meta is one of the few companies with the resources required to develop large language models for generative AI.

In a recent move, Meta introduced a suite of AI-powered marketing tools for businesses advertising on its platforms. These tools allow for customized images and text, empowering businesses to target their desired audiences more effectively. AI plays a crucial role in creating backgrounds, adjusting aspect ratios, and generating multiple ad versions tailored to various advertising channels.

While many companies view the widespread adoption of AI as a future endeavor, Meta is already leveraging this technology to drive its growth.

However, Meta's stock is currently trading at 37 times its trailing 12-month earnings and roughly 7 times its sales, making it less of a bargain for investors. This somewhat inflated valuation may warrant caution.

Nonetheless, when you consider Meta's future prospects, the outlook becomes more favorable. It's valued at only 24 times next year's earnings and 5 times next year's sales, which is significantly more attractive. Why? Because the company is expected to return to double-digit growth in sales and earnings per share by the end of 2024.

The recovery in the digital advertising market is well underway, and Meta is generously offering its AI expertise to advertisers at no cost, potentially attracting a growing number of them to its platform.

Despite the potential for market volatility due to ongoing economic uncertainties, investing in Meta Platforms now could prove to be a savvy move in five or ten years, especially given the extensive growth prospects on the horizon.


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