The rise of extended reality -- the intersection of real and virtual environments incorporating human and machine interactions using technology and wearables -- is better known as the metaverse. Grand View Research expects the metaverse to become a $679 billion market by 2030, giving it a compound annual growth rate of 30%.
Numerous tech companies have rushed to provide the hardware and software to build and interact with these virtual worlds. While many metaverse stocks could turn into a compelling segue into this universe, they may find particularly compelling opportunities in Meta Platforms (META 1.13%) and Roblox (RBLX 0.32%). Let's take a closer look at these two metaverse stocks.
1. Meta Platforms
Due to its flagship Facebook site covering a large percentage of the world's population, the company formerly known as Facebook has bet on a shift in the metaverse. While the name change may ultimately do little for the company, Meta will probably play an increasingly large role in this virtual world.
For one, about 2.8 billion users visit one of its social media sites -- Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, or WhatsApp -- every day. This network provides an advantageous starting point. Moreover, it has built a leading position in VR glasses with its Oculus Quest 2 headsets. Powered by Qualcomm chips, this headset claims a leading position in its market. Also, the accompanying "haptic gloves" creation gives the sense of feeling, an experience that could enhance their role in the metaverse.
Investors should also know that the company generated $118 billion in revenue in 2021, 37% more than in 2020. Admittedly, Reality Labs, which accounts for its Oculus headsets, only accounted for just over $2 billion of that revenue.
Overall, Meta earned $39.4 billion in net income that year, 35% ahead of year-ago levels. A 96% increase in its provision for income taxes offset comparatively slower growth in its costs and expenses.
Despite that growth, the stock price has dropped by more than 30% over the last 12 months. Investors have hammered the stock on slowing earnings growth, and the first-quarter guidance it offered led to the single largest market cap loss in stock market history.
However, other metrics suggest it might be time to buy the dip in Meta. The decline has left the company with a price-to-earnings ratio of 15, an attractive valuation even if the prediction of Q1 revenue growth coming in between 3% and 11% comes to pass.
In the end, the metaverse offers Meta a wide range of growth prospects. Between the company's massive user base and its VR products, Meta could eventually live up to its new name.
Tech giants like Meta are not the only companies showing potential in the metaverse. Roblox has built a massive social ecosystem through its game development platform. Users can develop and play games on platforms ranging from PCs to smartphones to VR headsets. Developers can also derive income from the games by bringing people together in the metaverse on its social platform. Then there is the virtual currency -- Robux -- used on the platform that could develop into something more as Roblox gets deeper into the metaverse.
Through its ecosystem, it has attracted about 55 million users. More than half that user base was under 13 years old until last year. However, it has begun to attract increased interest from those above 13 and has drawn growing attention on a professional level. For example, a partnership led to Chipotle developing a virtual restaurant in the metaverse and it recently used the platform to promote National Burrito Day.
Roblox's rising popularity shows up in the financials as the company reported $1.9 billion in revenue in 2021, a 108% increase from 2020. Expenses also rose fast, leading to $492 million in losses, up from $253 million in 2020.
However, thanks to $820 million in deferred revenue, operating cash flow came in at $659 million. Roblox dubs money in users' digital wallets (the aforementioned Robux) as "deferred revenue," only recognizing the revenue when users spend it. This implies that its financials are in better shape than its losses would indicate.
However, the company also reported January 2022 results in its full-year report. Particularly disturbing was bookings growth in that month of only 2% to 3% year over year, a considerable slowdown from full-year bookings growth of 45% in 2021 compared with 2020 numbers.
That news, along with a generalized sell-off in tech stocks, led to Roblox's stock price dropping about 70% from its October high. That means that its price-to-sales ratio, which reached 40 as recently as November, now stands at a record low of 10. Nonetheless, Roblox's potential in the metaverse may serve as a good reason to add shares at this valuation.