The market doesn't always react predictably to news and headlines.
Case in point: Facebook (META -1.69%) recently released its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings report, and although the tech company's performance was strong, Facebook's shares are down by about 9% since its earnings release. The sell-off was attributed to Facebook's decelerating growth rate, but that's something management had predicted would happen.
During Facebook's third-quarter 2019 earnings conference call, CFO Dave Wehner said the following: "We continue to expect a more pronounced deceleration of our revenue growth rate in Q4. We expect our Q4 reported revenue growth rate will decelerate by mid to high single-digit percentage compared to our Q3 rate."
Looking at the big picture, Facebook's latest slump is an opportunity for long-term investors to purchase shares of the tech giant.
Facebook now boasts 2.5 billion monthly active users (MAUs) on its namesake website and app, whereas the company has 2.89 billion MAUs across its family of apps, which includes Instagram and WhatsApp.
Few companies in the world have managed to garner a stronger community of users. For that reason, Facebook will continue to be a prime target for advertisers looking to reach their target market. However, beyond Facebook's bread and butter advertising business, the company has been looking for other ways to monetize its community of users.
Take, for instance, Facebook's e-commerce ambitions. Last year, the tech giant introduced Instagram Checkout to allow users on Instagram to purchase items directly from the app. In addition to the increased advertising revenue this could bring to Instagram (as retailers increasingly look to reach customers on the platform), the company charges sellers processing fees with each transaction. Facebook then introduced Facebook Pay, a platform that allows users to set up payment information to use automatically across its family of apps.
After its initial launch, Facebook Pay was only available with a select number of businesses, but the company said it would add more participating businesses over time. This could help Facebook offer a more convenient shopping experience for its users, which could lead to increased traffic on its family of apps as businesses look to connect with customers.
As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said during the company's fourth quarter earnings conference call:
We launched Checkout on Instagram with a small closed beta in Q1 2019. We slowly have been building the experience, and now hundreds of businesses in the US are experimenting with Checkout. We're taking the time to get this right and growing slowly so people and advertisers can benefit over the long-term.
Facebook has other avenues for growth as well. For instance, the company is looking to make a dent in the virtual reality (VR) market. Back in 2014, Facebook acquired VR leader Oculus for $3 billion. The company has also been spending a lot of money lately to acquire more VR assets. This business is still years away from making a serious impact on Facebook's top line, but it is one of the growth opportunities available to the company.
Facebook is still a buy
Facebook is currently trading at 19 times future earnings, while its price to earnings growth (PEG) ratio is 1.19. These valuation metrics hardly make Facebook cheap, but that isn't at all surprising given the company's stature and reasonably attractive prospects.
That being said, there's one thing that could disrupt Facebook's ambitions, namely government regulation. Some politicians have flirted with the idea of breaking up Facebook into two or more smaller companies. Facebook is also one of the tech companies at the heart of the ongoing big tech antitrust investigation.
However, not much has come of this investigation yet, and Facebook continues to thrive despite increased scrutiny from government regulators.
Investors should definitely keep an eye on how things develop, but given Facebook's strong core business -- as well as its potentially lucrative growth opportunities -- it remains of the top tech stocks out there, and after its most recent slump, now is a good time to jump on board.