Meta Stock Sets Record High—How It Emerged From 77% Plunge And Metaverse Fiasco

Published 1 month ago
By Forbes | Derek Saul
In this photo illustration the American online social media
(Photo Illustration by Chukrut Budrul/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

TOPLINE

Meta registered its highest-ever share price Friday, potentially completing the social media giant’s dramatic recovery amid Wall Street’s renewed faith in Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has refocused the firm’s attention on improving bottom lines.

KEY FACTS

Shares of Meta climbed as much as 2.2% to $384.36 in Friday trading, eking out their prior intraday high of $384.33 set in September 2021.

Meta, which also broke its prior high closing share price of $382, capped a significant comeback from the stock’s 77% collapse from its 2021 peak to its November 2022 nadir.

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The 2021-22 unraveling, though coming as worsening economic conditions and the threat of higher interest rates broadly weighed on technology stocks, notably coincided with Meta’s name change from Facebook to reflect the company’s shifting focus away from its core social media product and into Zuckerberg’s pet “metaverse” augmented and virtual reality passion project.

The metaverse push proved highly unpopular among investors, as the company’s augmented and virtual division reported $13.7 billion of operating losses in 2022.

But Meta shares came roaring back in 2023 as Zuckerberg touted the company’s “year of efficiency” marked by more than 20,000 layoffs and a push to boost profits, an effort that began to bear fruit in Meta’s results as the company is fresh off of its most profitable quarter ever, generating $13.9 billion in cash during the quarter ending September 30, 2022.

KEY BACKGROUND

Meta was the S&P 500’s second-best performer of 2023, returning almost 200%. Its gains came during a broad rally for big tech stocks, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq index rose more than 40% last year. Zuckerberg, who owns about 13% of the company, grew much richer as Meta stock soared. His $134 billion net worth Friday, as estimated by Forbes, is the fifth-largest fortune in the world.

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SURPRISING FACT

Meta is now within 2% of achieving a $1 trillion market capitalization for the first time in its history. Apple, Microsoft, Saudi Aramco, Alphabet, Amazon and Nvidia are the only companies in the world now valued at over $1 trillion. Meta’s roughly $985 billion market cap Friday made it the world’s seventh-most valuable company.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Meta will report fourth-quarter and full-year financial results February 1. Analysts expect Meta to report its most profitable year ever with a record $72.6 billion of projected EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), according to FactSet.