Is Meta Still a “Buy” After Making History?

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Going into February 2022, shares of Meta Platforms (Nasdaq: META) had been nearly cut in half over the prior six months.

The steep drop in stock price had my contrarian instincts tingling.

When I took a hard look at the company on February 17, 2022, I concluded that the stock was a “complete steal.”

Meta has been in the news again over the past week – and for historic reasons. But before we dig into its current valuation, let me finish telling you the backstory…

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the company had seen a mind-blowing 3.6 billion people use at least one app in its “family” of apps, which includes Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.

That means almost half of all people on the planet had used a Meta app!

On top of that, Meta’s stock market valuation looked incredibly appealing.

Its price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio had dropped to just 17, a historically cheap number for this business.

And if I didn’t include the $10 billion loss that Meta had rung up investing in the metaverse, its P/E ratio dropped to 13!

To me, that was jaw-droppingly cheap for a business that had generated $58 billion in cash flow from operations in 2021 and had a whopping $50 billion in cash on its incredible balance sheet.

I also loved the fact that analysts were still expecting Meta to grow revenue by $10 billion in 2022 and another $17 billion in 2023.

My final conclusion on February 17, 2022, was this:

“The stock could decline further in the short term, but I think in the medium to long term, right now is your chance to nab a great entry valuation.”

Fast-forward to the present, and it is clear that Meta’s stock was in fact a great opportunity.

Chart: Patience Paid Off With Meta's Stock

Meta shares have now more than doubled since I concluded that they were a complete steal.

Incredibly, after I recommended the stock, it actually declined by another 50% before starting its amazing recovery.

This is an important reminder that great investing requires a lot of patience.

Picking the bottom on a stock is impossible. Finding good value isn’t.

How Does Meta’s Valuation Look Now?

Last Friday, Meta shares rocketed more than 20% thanks to a fourth quarter 2023 earnings release that the market obviously loved.

In its release, the company announced a 25% increase in revenues combined with an 8% decrease in costs.

It also delighted investors by revealing that it would begin paying a dividend.

The 20% stock move added an astonishing $196 billion to the company’s market capitalization.

That’s an all-time single-day record not just for Meta… but for the entire market.

This enormous increase in Meta’s share price has also changed the stock’s value proposition.

As I said above, when I first wrote about Meta, we could get shares for 17 times earnings, which was far below where the company had ever traded before.

When the stock finally bottomed late in 2022, Meta shares could be had for less than 10 times earnings. That was a truly epic buying opportunity.

Chart: Meta's Valuation Has Returned to Normal Levels

After last week’s leap, Meta is currently trading at 31 times trailing earnings.

And based on its average 2024 earnings per share estimate of $19.53 and its share price of $470, it is trading at 24 times forward earnings.

To me, both of these numbers look about right for the incredible cash machine that Meta is.

After all, a great company should garner a top valuation.

I hope you made some money on this one! We had a chance to buy this dominant company at an absurdly cheap valuation.

That opportunity has passed, though, due to the surge in Meta shares.

The Value Meter now rates Meta Platforms as being “Appropriately Valued.”

The Value Meter

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