It may be hard to believe now, yet as recently as six months ago, one could classify Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META) as a “deep value” stock. At the time, META stock was trading less than $100 per share.
Compared to 2022 earnings forecasts, this meant you could buy the Facebook and Instagram parent at a low valuation, not only relative to other FAANG stocks but relative to the market overall (as measured by the S&P 500) as well.
Flash forward back to now, and META is up by nearly 142%. Sentiment for the tech giant has shifted in a big way, pushing the stock back to what is arguably a fair valuation.
However, while you may have “missed the boat” going contrarian on Meta, don’t assume the ship has fully sailed. You may still want to make this a long-term holding. Here’s why.
META Stock: From Rock-Bottom to Fair Value
When Meta Platforms was trading at multi-year lows last fall, it wasn’t exactly a “no brainer” buying opportunity. At the time, there was a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the social media company. Namely, the uncertainty surrounding CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse ambitions.
While some contrarians were arguing that META stock had become “deep value,” the market was countering that the stock was at risk of being a “value trap,” as Zuckerberg’s plans to spend billions on building out the company’s metaverse infrastructure would send earnings off a cliff.
Fortunately for those contrarians, however, Zuckerberg came to his senses. After alienating Wall Street with his big planned wager on the metaverse, Meta has since scaled back these plans, even as Zuckerberg denies that the company has abandoned this digital frontier completely.
More importantly, the CEO has given Wall Street what it wants to see: lower costs and higher earnings. Meta has completed multiple rounds of layoffs and is implementing other cost-saving measures. These have already had a positive impact on the bottom line and could continue to do so in the quarters ahead. As a result, shares have more than doubled in price and are back to fair value.
A ‘Wonderful’ Company?
META stock currently trades for around 20 times 2023 sell-side earnings forecasts. Google parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL), Meta’s closest peer amongst the FAANG stocks, also trades for 20 times forward earnings.
META’s forward valuation is also not too far from the S&P 500’s current forward multiple of 17.9x. With this, it appears that Meta Platforms shares today are neither undervalued nor overvalued. So, does that mean there’s little reason to get excited about this stock anymore? Not so fast!
Sure, the epic re-rating has already happened. The stock probably isn’t going to rally by another 142% in the next six months. However, there’s still an opportunity for this stock to deliver gradual-but-outsized gains in the years ahead. To borrow from a famous Warren Buffett maxim, Meta is, in my view, “a wonderful company at a fair price.”
META fits this definition well and is consistently profitable, with a deep economic moat and the potential for continued earnings growth. Not only that, compared to Alphabet, which may have more to lose than gain from the rise of AI, emerging tech trends may pose less of a long-term competitive threat to this tech powerhouse.
Poised for Steady, Outsized Growth
Yes, AI may not pose a threat to Meta’s future as they do for Alphabet, but that’s not to say it is immune from competition. Case in point: TikTok, which in a matter of a few years, has grabbed a good share of the social media market.
Still, while TikTok is a formidable competitor, Meta is keeping up with its TikTok-esque Reels feature on its Facebook and Instagram platforms. Regulatory scrutiny could also limit TikTok’s ability to grab a greater share of eyeballs and ad dollars.
Hence, the company may face minimal growth challenges. After rising from $8.59 to $11.63 per share this year, analysts expect the company’s earnings to grow by 24.5% in 2024 and by another 16% in 2025.
If this back-in-favor social media giant can continue meeting/beating expectations, META stock may be poised for steady, outsized growth in the years ahead.
On the date of publication, Thomas Niel did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.