Shares of Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:FB) have tumbled in recent months. Since hitting a 52-week high of $384.33 in September, the tech stock has tumbled more than 19%.
Meta shares seem to be cooling off after a market-beating 2020 and further strong gains this summer. Also likely weighing on the stock is the company's increased scrutiny in the media and from the government, and recent changes to iOS that have negatively impacted Facebook's advertising measurement and tracking.
But despite the tech stock's bearish trend and some negative headlines about the company in the media, the Facebook parent's underlying business is firing on all cylinders. With the business doing well but the stock dipping, is this a good buying opportunity for investors? Or should investors wait for shares to fall further before they consider buying Meta stock?
To capture just how staggering Facebook's momentum is, consider some key metrics from the company's third-quarter update. Revenue during the period increased 35%, fueled primarily by a 33% year-over-year increase in advertising revenue as the social-network platform specialist saw its total unique daily active users across all of its platforms increase 11% year over year to 2.81 billion. Unique monthly active users across its platforms rose 12% to 3.58 billion.
For its fourth quarter, Facebook guided for revenue to be between $31.5 billion and $34 billion, reflecting a big seasonal increase from Q3 revenue of $29 billion. The midpoint of this guidance range translates to year-over-year growth of 17%. Facebook's guidance is usually quite conservative, however, so actual growth for the period is likely to be higher.
Investors should also note Facebook's impressive cash generation. The company's trailing-nine-month free cash flow amounts to $25.9 billion, up from $13.8 billion in the year-ago period and $15.8 billion in the same period two years ago. On a trailing-12-month basis, Facebook generated a whopping $35.8 billion in free cash flow.
This strong cash generation has resulted in a massive war chest of cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities, totaling more than $58 billion. This strong cash position, combined with the company's robust cash generation, has enabled Meta to buy back shares aggressively. The company repurchased $14.4 billion of its shares in Q3 alone and announced a $50 billion increase to its share repurchase authorization when it reported its third-quarter results.
An attractive valuation
With such strong fundamentals, it may be difficult to believe that the tech stock trades at just 22 times earnings today. This is even more surprising when you consider that the current consensus analyst estimate for Meta's bottom line is for earnings per share to increase at an average annualized rate of 21% over the next five years. Investors shouldn't let the stock's recent decline and Meta's conservative valuation fool them. This is still a growth stock and should be valued like one.
Though there's no way to know whether this is the bottom for the stock, investors who buy shares today will likely do well over the next five years. While there are certainly risks for Meta Platforms, including an evolving digital advertising landscape, antitrust concerns, and competition from smaller social-network companies like Snap and Twitter, these risks seem largely baked into Meta's conservative stock price.