scorecardZuck refuses to let his metaverse dream die. Wall Street has finally had enough.
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Zuck refuses to let his metaverse dream die. Wall Street has finally had enough.

Huileng Tan   

Zuck refuses to let his metaverse dream die. Wall Street has finally had enough.
Stock Market2 min read
Meta's share price has fallen nearly 70% so far this year.    Photo by Liu Jie/Xinhua via Getty
  • Meta shares slumped more than 22% to $100.79 Thursday, slashing over $65 billion from its market cap.
  • The Facebook parent's market value had already fallen by half-a-trillion dollars this year.

Wall Street has been hammering the shares of Meta Platforms after the company reported its second straight quarterly revenue decline after the market close Wednesday. The share price slide is also chipping a chunk off CEO Mark Zuckerberg's rapidly shrinking fortune.

Meta shares fell as low as $97.36 on Thursday, down 25% from Wednesday's closing price. The slump wiped more than $65 billion off Meta's market capitalization, which has fallen by more than half a trillion dollars this year alone.

In a Thursday note, Bank of America cut Meta's price target from $150 to $136, with analysts citing further deceleration in ad revenue, lofty metaverse investments that are seemingly permanent, and uncertainty around the company's transition to reels.

"On a total company basis, including metaverse investments, our valuation reflects a discount to S&P 500, given decelerating topline growth, increasing competition for user attention & advertising dollars, and large Metaverse investments pressuring earnings," BofA maintained.

It's possible that the stock price sees some upside if Meta gains strong traction for Reels and Messaging monetization, or if there's a TikTok ban in the US, according to BofA. Yet, broader headwinds still remain.

"We believe in the near-term, Meta's topline will remain under pressure as higher interest rates weigh on economic growth and online advertising demand," analysts noted.

Meanwhile, optimism from management surrounding the lack of layoffs and insistence on the future of Reality Labs, among other factors, is not adequate to offset disappointing guidance for next quarter and year ahead, strategists from JPMorgan said Thursday.

"We remain Neutral on META after the print. A challenging digital ad space and management's limited appetite for belt tightening hold us back from going Overweight on a credit which otherwise flags extremely cheap to almost all peers for its credit profile," JPMorgan wrote.

The bank also noted that despite Meta's large investments in its metaverse department, it remains unclear what that will actually look like.

"[Zuckerberg] did not offer much in terms of what kind of business this will become (hardware, software, ads?), and this remains our main question here," the JPMorgan strategists said.

Zuckerberg, for his part, has already seen his wealth slump by 61% this year as of Wednesday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Most of the billionaire's wealth comes from a 13% stake in Meta.

Zuckerberg is now worth $48.9 billion, meaning he's still the 23rd-richest person in the world, according to the index. He started 2022 with a $125 billion fortune, but that dwindled over the year due to the slide in Meta's share price, which has fallen about 70% so far this year.

On Wednesday, Meta — which owns social-networking platform Facebook — posted a 4% revenue decline in the third quarter of 2022 that followed its first-ever revenue drop of 0.9% in the prior quarter. It also expects its metaverse unit to continue losing money in 2023, the tech giant said in a press release.

"An increase in competition from China's TikTok and changes to Apple's new iPhone privacy measures, along with a broader slowdown in ad spending are seen dampening the company's sales," wrote Thomas Westwater, an analyst at DailyFX and IG, an online trading platform.

However, the metaverse is likely "the most potent headwind" to Meta's share price, he added.

Investors are wary of Zuckerberg's relentless push into the metaverse. Brad Gerstner, the CEO of Altimeter Capital, published an open letter to Zuckerberg and Meta's board of directors on Monday, calling on the tech giant to focus on its core, profit-generating businesses instead.

Meta told Insider the company has "no comment on stock volatility."




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