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Pro Research: Wall Street dives into Meta’s prospects and challenges

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Published Jan 21, 2024 03:23PM ET

Pro Research: Wall Street dives into Meta's prospects and challenges © Reuters.

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In the dynamic world of social media and digital advertising, Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:), formerly known as Facebook, stands as a formidable force. With a suite of popular products including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and augmented/virtual reality offerings, Meta has carved out a significant presence in the industry. Analysts have been scrutinizing the company’s performance and potential, offering a wealth of insights into its market position, product segments, and future outlook.

Market Performance and Product Segments

Meta’s primary revenue stream flows from advertising placements, a sector where it has shown remarkable strength. The company’s financials reveal a trajectory of growth, with net revenues projected to rise from $133.48 billion in FY23 to $154.71 billion in FY24. This growth is underpinned by robust earnings per share (EPS), expected to climb from $14.40 in FY23 to $18.85 in FY24.

The company’s stock performance, while exhibiting fluctuations, has been notable with a significant range over the past 52 weeks. Yet, what truly captures attention is the detailed breakdown of Meta’s product segments. Analysts highlight the substantial contribution of APAC advertisers to Meta’s advertising revenue, with Chinese e-commerce platforms like Temu and Shein adding around 3% to the total revenue in recent quarters. However, there’s a note of caution regarding the sustainability of such high ad spending levels.

Strategy and Competitive Landscape

Meta’s strategy pivots on two key areas: Reels advertising and e-commerce. Analysts are bullish on the promise these segments hold for both near-term and long-term growth. The company’s unmatched scale and marketing tools are seen as a competitive edge, particularly when juxtaposed against rivals like TikTok.

A significant partnership with Amazon (NASDAQ:) has been a recent highlight, poised to validate Meta’s social commerce capabilities. This collaboration is expected to facilitate direct in-app purchases, potentially improving conversion rates and bolstering revenue through social commerce, especially during the holiday season.

External Factors and Regulatory Environment

Despite the positive outlook, Meta faces potential headwinds. The regulatory environment poses a challenge, with antitrust issues and privacy initiatives that could impact ad targeting capabilities. Moreover, the competitive landscape for user engagement, especially among younger demographics, remains fierce.

Analysts are also monitoring the impact of geopolitical events, such as the Middle East conflict, on advertiser demand. Additionally, the deprecation of third-party cookies could introduce volatility in the digital advertising market.

Bull Case

Can Meta’s AI innovations sustain its advertising growth?

Meta’s investment in AI has been a game-changer, improving content relevance and monetization. The AI product cycle has introduced new experiences like AI chatbots, which have been well-received. The company’s AI-driven tools, such as Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns and Click-to-WhatsApp ads, have achieved significant run rates, indicating strong advertiser and user engagement. With AI innovation at the helm, Meta’s advertising revenue growth has the potential to accelerate, driven by online commerce and global ad spend.

Will Meta’s cost discipline lead to increased profitability?

The company’s expense discipline has been noteworthy, with a decrease in general and administrative (G&A) and sales and marketing (S&M) expenses contributing to higher operating margins. Meta’s preliminary guidance for 2024 indicates a conservative approach to expenses, suggesting the potential for operating leverage and free cash flow (FCF) upside. If Meta continues on this path, it could see over 15% revenue growth in 2024, with EPS potentially exceeding $20.

Bear Case

How might changes in APAC advertiser spending affect Meta?

While APAC advertisers have significantly contributed to Meta’s revenue, there are concerns about the long-term sustainability of this spending. Drawing parallels to historical spending patterns of companies like Wish, which were not sustained, analysts question whether Meta can continue to rely on this revenue stream. A reduction in ad spending by these companies could pose a risk, although Meta’s auction dynamics may mitigate some of the impact.

Could regulatory challenges stifle Meta’s growth?

Meta operates in a complex regulatory landscape, with antitrust challenges and privacy initiatives that could pose significant risks. Increased regulatory pressure in markets like the EU and US, including Federal Trade Commission (FTC) initiatives, could modify existing consent orders and propose additional restrictions. These factors could potentially hinder Meta’s ability to monetize new ad formats or e-commerce effectively.

SWOT Analysis


  • Diverse portfolio of popular social media platforms.
  • Strong advertising revenue, particularly from APAC region.
  • AI-driven product innovations enhancing user engagement and monetization.
  • Strategic partnerships, such as with Amazon, to bolster social commerce.


  • Potential unsustainability of high ad spending levels from APAC advertisers.
  • Regulatory and antitrust challenges that could impact business operations.
  • Intense competition for user engagement and ad dollars.


  • Growth in Reels advertising and e-commerce segments.
  • AI advancements offering new user experiences and improving ad efficiency.
  • Cost discipline leading to higher operating margins and profitability.


  • Volatility in digital advertising market due to external factors like geopolitical events.
  • Deprecation of third-party cookies affecting ad targeting.
  • Changes in consumer behavior and technology trends impacting platform usage.

Analysts Targets

  • Stifel: ‘Buy’ rating with a target price of $405.00 (November 14, 2023).
  • Citi Research: ‘Buy’ rating with a target price of $425.00 (November 13, 2023).
  • RBC Capital Markets: ‘Outperform’ rating with a target price of $400.00 (October 26, 2023).
  • KeyBanc Capital Markets: ‘Overweight’ rating with a target price of $380.00 (October 26, 2023).
  • JMP Securities: ‘Market Outperform’ rating with a target price of $380.00 (October 26, 2023).
  • Wolfe Research: ‘Outperform’ rating with a target price of $380.00 (October 26, 2023).
  • Roth MKM: ‘Buy’ rating with a target price of $365.00 (October 26, 2023).
  • Bernstein Research: ‘Outperform’ rating with a target price of $435.00 (January 18, 2024).
  • Evercore ISI: ‘Outperform’ rating with a target price of $425.00 (October 26, 2023).
  • Goldman Sachs: ‘Buy’ rating with a target price of $365.00 (October 24, 2023).

This analysis spans from October to January of the following year, offering a comprehensive view of Meta’s standing from various analyst firms.

InvestingPro Insights

Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ:META) continues to navigate the competitive landscape of social media and digital advertising with strategic maneuvers and financial discipline. Investors and analysts keeping a close eye on Meta’s market performance will find the following InvestingPro Insights particularly informative:

With a robust Market Cap of approximately $985.41 billion, Meta’s financial health appears strong. The company’s Price/Earnings (P/E) Ratio stands at 33.49, reflecting investor confidence in its future earnings potential. However, when adjusted for the last twelve months as of Q3 2023, the P/E Ratio is slightly lower at 27.49, suggesting a more favorable valuation in recent terms. The Price to Book (P/B) ratio, which is a measure of market valuation, is currently high at 6.9, indicating that the market may be valuing the company’s assets more optimistically.

One of the InvestingPro Tips for Meta highlights that it holds more cash than debt on its balance sheet, which is a positive sign of financial stability and could be a reassuring factor for investors. Another tip reveals that Meta’s stock is currently trading near its 52-week high, with the price reaching 99.76% of this peak, suggesting strong market sentiment and potential optimism about the company’s future prospects.

For those seeking more in-depth analysis and additional insights, InvestingPro offers a range of tips to further evaluate Meta’s position. There are 17 additional InvestingPro Tips available for Meta, which can be accessed by subscribing to InvestingPro. Currently, there’s a special New Year sale offering up to 50% off on subscriptions. To get an additional 10% off a 2-year InvestingPro+ subscription, use coupon code SFY24, or use code SFY241 for an additional 10% off a 1-year subscription. These insights could be invaluable for investors looking to make informed decisions about their investments in Meta.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

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