Zuckerberg Loses 90 Billion in One Year

Meta Platforms stock plunged nearly 24% Thursday after the Facebook parent missed earnings targets and flagged sales will keep falling as its digital ad business struggles.

The social-media giant posted another decline in revenue in its third-quarter earnings update published after the bell Wednesday. It also reported billions of dollars of losses for its metaverse-linked Reality Labs unit, an investment that has come under fire from analysts.

Shares in Meta were 24% lower at $99.04 at last check in premarket trading, wiping around $80 billion off the company’s market value.

The tech giant reported third-quarter earnings of $1.64 per share, well short of the $1.89 expected, according to Refinitiv. Its revenue for the quarter came in at $27.71 billion, compared with a $27.38 billion target, as sales dropped by 4%.

In a sign of challenges ahead, Meta issued a fourth-quarter revenue forecast of between $30 billion and $32.5 billion, compared with analysts’ expectations for $32.2 billion. 

Stocks in leading tech companies have dropped this week, thanks to a fallback in spending on digital advertising as the economy slows. Google parent Alphabet’s shares tumbled 9.6% Wednesday after its quarterly earnings report, as analysts warned that a decline in its YouTube and Google Network revenue pointed to more pain ahead.

The results showed Meta’s virtual reality-focused Reality Labs business burned through $3.7 billion in the third quarter. That takes its total losses this year to $9 billion, and to almost $20 billion since the start of 2021.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s unprofitable pivot to the metaverse is hammering his company’s profitability and weighing on its stock price, analysts said.

“The roll out and take up of the group’s virtual reality products leaves a lot to be desired, despite the seemingly never-ending upwards spiral of the research and development budget,” Hargreaves Lansdown’s lead equity analyst Sophie Lund-Yates said.

Meta’s shares were down just over 61% for the year so far as of Wednesday’s close, before the earnings report. That drop significantly outpaces the benchmark S&P 500 stock index’ 20% decline for the same period.

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