It has been a rough year for social media and digital advertising behemoth Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and for FB stock.
Facebook stock entered 2018 with a $500 billion market cap, and Facebook had 50% revenue growth, 50% operating margins, and an unparalleled digital ecosystem that pretty much every internet user in the world was plugged into. FB stock is exiting 2018 with a $400 billion market cap, and FB now has 30% revenue growth, 40% operating margins, and a global digital ecosystem that’s threatened by regulation and user fatigue.
But this isn’t the end for FB stock. Actually, 2018 was just a road bump for a company that remains a cornerstone of the world’s most-used service: the internet. The only thing that Facebook stock price needs to bounce back is the right catalyst.
That right catalyst is video. Facebook just released data on Facebook Watch, the company’s Internet TV offering. On the surface, the data is pretty impressive. Just three months after Facebook Watch’s global launch, it has 400 million monthly active users, and 75 million daily active users who spend at least 20 minutes per day on the platform.
But there’s much more to this story than just the headline numbers. Video is powering a brighter future for Facebook stock. From Watch to Facebook Stories to Instagram Stories to WhatsApp Status, Facebook is pioneering a new era of social video consumption. This era is the future, and Facebook owns most of the properties that matter in this space.
Consequently, video is the future of Facebook stock, and that future – unlike the current Facebook stock price – is bright.
Facebook Watch Could Be Huge
The headline numbers from Facebook Watch are impressive and underscore that video consumption on Facebook is growing.
Facebook Watch has 400 million monthly active users. By comparison, YouTube has 1.8 billion monthly active users. In other words, Facebook Watch has been available throughout the world for only a few months, and it already is more than 20% as big as YouTube, the world’s leading digital- video platform.
More importantly, Facebook Watch has 75 million daily active users who consume 20 minutes of video per day on Watch. That means people are doing more than just clicking on the Watch tab, taking a fast look, and then quickly clicking on something else They are actually viewing Watch’s content.
Let’s estimate how much revenue Watch can generate for FB. YouTube has 1.8 billion users, and is set to generate about $15 billion of revenue this year. Many analysts expect that figure to grow to $30 billion within the next few years. If it does, YouTube’s user base will likely have expanded to 2 billion by then. Thus, a reasonable projection for YouTube’s average revenue per monthly active user is $15.
Let’s conservatively say that Facebook Watch plateaus around 500 million monthly users. Average revenue per user of $15 and 500 million users would generate $7.5 billion of revenue. Assuming 40% operating margins and a 20% tax rate, its net profits would be about $2.4 billion. Assuming a price-earnings multiple of 20, which is average for growth stocks, we arrive at a nearly $50 billion valuation for Facebook Watch.
And that’s just with 500 million users. What if Watch’s penetration rate reaches 50%, raising its user base to 1 billion? Based on our previous assumptions, Watch’s valuation would be nearly $100 billion.
Regardless of the exact numbers, the broad takeaway is simple: Watch represents a huge opportunity for FB stock. And Watch is just one part of Facebook’s broader video suite which creates a far larger opportunity for FB stock.
Watch Is Just One Part of Facebook’s Video Strategy
In the big picture, video is the future of digital consumption. Video is more engaging than written words. It’s more visually aesthetic, more immersive, and allows creators to communicate more while using less space. Overall, video is just better than static display, so video is the future.
Since Facebook owns most of the digital, mobile, video platforms in the world, FB is exceptionally well-positioned to exploit this video mega-trend. YouTube, owned by Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG), is at the top of the pack. There’s also Snapchat, which is owned by Snap (NYSE:SNAP), and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)-owned Twitch.
But Facebook owns all the other relevant digital video platforms. Instagram is the world’s largest photo and video-sharing platform in the world, with 1 billion monthly users. Instagram Stories is the second- largest Stories platform in the world. (Stories are shared by users and consist of videos and photos). WhatsApp Status, which is owned by FB, is the world’s largest Stories platform, while Facebook Messenger Stories is third. Meanwhile, Facebook Watch now has 400 million monthly users, making it a YouTube rival, and nearly all of Facebook’s 2 billion users have seen a live video stream on Facebook.
If you put all these individual assets together, you’ll get a picture of what Facebook will look like in the future. Its future is not as ugly as many fear. Instead, its future is quite bright. Facebook will pivot from stale and static social media to a dynamic, engaging social video ecosystem, and this pivot will boost Facebook stock price.
The Bottom Line on FB Stock
Announcements of the death of Facebook and the demise of FB stock are greatly exaggerated. Instead, the current turbulence of Facebook stock is just a near-term phenomenon that will eventually fade. In the meantime, video will create a brighter future for Facebook, one in which FB stock will once again become a winning investment.
As of this writing, Luke Lango was long FB, GOOG, and AMZN.