Both have fallen sharply from their peaks, and both are involved in massive attempts at disruption that seem to have gone awry. Facebook-parent Meta Platforms is down more than 75% after burning through nearly $4 billion on its metaverse bet in the third quarter alone. And when it comes to online used car dealer Carvana, investors are now scared the company could go belly up, as it could face wide losses as used car prices fall. Carvana stock is down more than 95% from its 2021 peak.
Meta and Carvana have plunged for good reasons, but that doesn't mean that buying them now as contrarian bets in a bear market couldn't pay off handsomely.
For example, a well-timed investment in SiriusXM during the financial crisis -- when the company was on the verge of bankruptcy -- would have turned into a 20-bagger in just a few years.
Let's take a look at the ways Meta and Carvana could deliver their own multibagger returns from here.
Two ways that Meta could soar
Meta Platforms' share price plunged again in the wake of last week's earnings report, but there was some good news hidden in it.
After a tough few quarters, the advertising business could soon turn around. Management said the company has begun to lap the periods when the impact of Apple's ad-tracking transparency changes hit it the hardest. As such, the relative headwinds should soon begin to lift.
Meta has also been investing heavily in Reels, its TikTok-like short video product, which it's still monetizing at a lower rate than its news feed or Stories. Management said that should change over the next 12 to 18 months as the company ramps up advertising on Reels. Run-rate revenue from Reels ads on Facebook and Instagram has already reached $3 billion, showing its potential.
Though Meta has around 3 billion people using its family of apps, which include Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, it continues to grow its user base by approximately 4% year-over-year. Even Facebook is increasing its user base by 2% to 3%.
In other words, Meta's advertising business isn't as broken as it might appear, and the company is likely to return to profitable growth by next year in spite of the macro headwinds.
Secondly, it's too soon to count out Meta's metaverse bet. While the company is spending staggering sums on its Reality Labs unit, those investments could eventually still pay off.
Sales figures for the Quest Pro and the Quest 3 (due to be released next year) should, over time, offer indications about the potential of Meta's iteration of the metaverse. If sales for the headsets are promising (or if the reviews at least are positive), there's a good chance the stock could turn around.
Meta has also said that it would rein in its spending on Reality Labs in 2024 in order to drive overall operating income growth, meaning investors should expect profitability to slip to its nadir in 2023.
How Carvana could do a 180
Over its history, Carvana has put up eye-popping revenue growth, but it has never turned an annual profit. With used car prices now falling rapidly, the company finds itself sitting on billions of dollars worth of depreciating inventory.
The company also made an ill-timed acquisition of Adesa, the second-largest wholesale vehicle auction business in the country.
Earlier this year, Carvana laid off 12% of its staff in a bid to shore up its balance sheet, but that may not be enough. The company burned through nearly $1 billion in the first half of the year, and finished the second quarter with roughly $1 billion in cash on its balance sheet.
At this point, it seems likely that it will need to take on more high-interest debt to stay afloat.
However, Carvana stock has fallen so far that if all it does is avoid bankruptcy, that might be enough to give a win to investors who buy in at current levels, especially if the used car market starts to improve. That turnaround could happen once the Federal Reserve stops raising interest rates, which some pundits think could occur within the next few months.
At this point, Carvana stock trades at a rock-bottom price-to-sales ratio of 0.09. That could prove to be a bargain for a company that is still the leading e-commerce player in the used car space.
Carvana has a number of competitive advantages, including a well-known brand name, a network of reconditioning centers and high-profile "car vending machines," and a convenient business model for buyers and sellers, all of which make it easier to buy or sell a used car than it is at a traditional dealership.
Carvana's survival may not be guaranteed, but if it can avoid the worst impacts of a potential recession and make progress toward profitability, the stock is likely to see better days ahead.