The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of CNNMoney, Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.
If you type the phrase "Facebook is evil" into Google, you get about 249 million results. Interestingly, "the devil is evil" only yields 58.7 million results. And you only wind up with 17.9 million hits for "Justin Bieber is evil." (Happy Canada Day!)
But do you know what? Wall Street doesn't care that Facebook toys with its users. In fact, a big reason why investors may love Facebook's (FB) stock so much is because it has so much information about you, me and everyone else that's using the social network.
Facebook shares finished the first half of 2014 up 23%. Only three stocks in CNNMoney's Tech 30 did better: gaming companies Electronic Arts (EA), Activision Blizzard (ATVI) and smartphone turnaround story BlackBerry (BBRY).
I seriously doubt that too many people are going to stop posting obsessively on Facebook -- despite all the outrage about the study it conducted in 2012 where it tried to manipulate the moods of a small portion of its users.
Maybe I'm wrong though. Are you fed up with Facebook? If so, share your story by clicking here. We may use it in a future story on CNNMoney.
But as long as a billion plus individuals are updating their status and checking their News Feeds frequently, Wall Street won't care, either. That's because investors only care about two emotions: Fear and greed. The latter is currently the one most associated with Facebook.
Facebook's stock has done so well (after those awkward first few months following its 2012 IPO) because the company went from being one that was still struggling for ways to "monetize" its users effectively (especially on mobile) to a true digital advertising juggernaut like Google (GOOGL).
Just look at the numbers. That's what investors are doing. Facebook's revenue was just under $8 billion in 2013. Sales are expected to hit $11.8 billion this year and $15.6 billion in 2015, according to estimates from FactSet. That's phenomenal for a company this young.
When people talk about tech being a bubble, it's often because startups are getting gajillion-dollar valuations despite having little in the way of sales. Ahem, Uber! Ah-Airbnb-choo!
Obviously, Facebook is not in this camp.
Facebook is also obscenely profitable. Wall Street is forecasting annual earnings growth of about 35% a year for the next few years. And the company's net profit margin in 2014 is expected to be 32%. The S&P 500's projected net profit margin? Less than 10%.
It is clear that Facebook is a hit on Wall Street because advertisers want to be there. Facebook is no longer a question mark from a marketing perspective. Big companies have to have a social media presence. And Facebook, along with Twitter (TWTR), is the place to raise brand awareness socially.
Nobody likes being treated like a test subject. But Facebook users consent to this when they agree to the company's terms of service. As long as Facebook is a free site, advertising is going to be the main way the company makes money.
Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of Facebook's executives know that. So unless Facebook users vote with their fingers and decide to leave the service (as well as Facebook-owned Instagram) in droves, you can probably expect the company to experiment even more so it can find exactly the right information that it needs to boost ad revenues.
So does that make Facebook evil? Zuckerberg should proudly quote a line from classic heavy metal song made popular by fellow Bay Area natives Metallica. (Although that song was originally recorded by British metal group Diamond Head.) "Am I evil? I am man, yes I am!"
Rock on, everyone. Enjoy the original Diamond Head version. Warning. There are language issues. This is a heavy metal song after all.
This is the story of the road that goes to my house. Quick reader shout-out for a Twitter follower who won my "Name that Tune" challenge this morning. I tweeted about how the markets were off to a hot start on this first day of the second half of the year.
It's from a song by one of my favorite bands. And something tells me that Metallica probably wouldn't cover it. A little too folk-y.
Congrats, Kim. I'm also honored by your follow up tweet.
Being compared to The Decemberists' lead singer Colin Meloy makes me giddy. It's totally not true though. Until I start writing columns about chimney sweeps, sea shanties and Civil War battles, he'll always be more interesting than me.
But who says flattery will get you nowhere?
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