In after-hours trading Tuesday, Facebook (FB) shares hit a new all-time low of $21.61. After second quarter earnings were reported recently, a flurry of analysis followed on the new lows Facebook's equity shares were reaching (which represent quite the dramatic drop from the near-$40 IPO price). However, a close examination at specific metrics and outlook in Facebook's earnings report shows that the stock may now be in a perfect position for FB bulls.
Facebook reported Q2 2012 revenue of $1.184 billion, which represents a 32.3% rise from the same quarter last year (when Facebook was still a privately held company). Non-GAAP operating margins, excluding stock-based compensation, stood at 43.5%; non-GAAP EBIT was reported at $515 million (representing a 9% year-over-year jump). All of these exceeded analyst expectations across the Street.
Active user count jumped to 955 million, which is a 29% annual increase and a 6% increase quarter-over-quarter; growth here was primarily driven by Asia. Daily active users and mobile users also increased significantly. Gross profit in the second quarter of this year was $817 million. Gross margin as a percentage of total revenue stands at 69%, with significant increase in margins as a percentage of total revenue across the board in the second quarter: marketing & sales (11.5% in Q2 2011 to 33.1% in Q2 2012), research & development (11.1% in Q2 2011 to 59.5% in Q2 2012), and general & administrative (8.5% in Q2 2011 to 39.1% in Q2 2012).
Looking at peer company multiples of price and earnings/free cash flow, and EV/EBITDA, we see that FB's share price has now come down enough from the IPO level to a more reasonable industry-normal range, especially when compared with Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), and Netflix (NFLX). Google (GOOG), Yahoo! (YHOO), and eBay (EBAY) are all priced a bit more cheaply compared to Facebook, but if FB's share price continues to drop as it has been, the neutral or bearish outlook held by many investors and analysts alike will most certainly turn bullish.
In my opinion, Sponsored Stories growth, Newsfeed advertisements, and revolutionary new rollouts in the developer-advertising platforms on Facebook will be primary indicators of EPS accretion into future quarters. Because I am bullish on Facebook's ability to recruit the human capital required to implement these monetization strategies most effectively, I am bullish on FB equity shares overall.
Potential downside risk could stem from continued economic uncertainty and distrust of technology equities in particular, Facebook's inability to capitalize on talent to the extent necessary to implement these monetization strategies, and the company's unwillingness or inability to diversify revenue streams to a greater degree. If, in future quarters and years, the vast majority of revenue is still coming from advertising, then Facebook will be subject to macroeconomic market movements and consumer confidence to a much greater degree than it should given the vast amounts of data on consumer preferences it has so deftly accumulated over the years.
As the company continues to work to integrate itself more deeply into the roots of the Internet and hardware devices/smartphones that access the Web, Facebook's brand name, user base, and incredibly valuable collection of consumer preferences and data will only increase in value. Ultimately, only time will tell if Facebook will succeed in diversifying revenue streams and in growing existing ones by capitalizing on the online advertising market's uncertainties at the moment. However, with the perfect storm of new revenue opportunities on the horizon, it seems a bit ludicrous for the market to be valuing this technology behemoth's position below $24. For brave investors, this may represent a beautiful opportunity.
Additional disclosure: I may initiate a long equity or short put option position in FB over the next 72 hours.