What do you guys think of the new Facebook Portal hardware products with cameras and microphones for your home? I’m pretty sure that Facebook this is about the worst possible time for Facebook to launch a device with cameras and always-on listening microphones. Facebook will tell you that its only the device itself listening until your prompt it with “Hey Portal,” but that still means the device is always listening for that prompt.
But back to the timing of this roll out — until today, the only headlines about Facebook for the last couple months have been focused on how bad Facebook’s privacy management and how Facebook let at least 50 million of their users get hacked. One thing to note here is that 50 million is less than 2% of Facebook’s total user base.
I personally haven’t logged back into Facebook since I found out two weeks ago that they’d let my account get hacked. Moreover, I’m actually more angry about the fact that Facebook still hasn’t notified me by email that my account was hacked. I’d actually prefer that they’d send me a link that would enable me to delete or suspend my Facebook account without having to log back in.
And then this morning at 4:30am, I was reading an article about how Taylor Swift has decided to play the Republican vs Democrat game by posting something on her Instagram account. The article had a link to her Instagram post so I clicked on it to read the entirety of what she’d written. Well, no go, because here’s what I got:
Apparently, I haven’t used my Instagram account since back before August 31, because I just found out that someone in Kuala Lumpur had indeed also tried to use my Facebook token that they’d stolen to log into my Instagram account too! And for the last 40 days since someone in Malaysia used my hacked information that Facebook knows was hacked to log into my Instagram account, did Facebook bother to notify me? Nope.
Think about it this way: If my Amazon account had been hacked, do you think Amazon wouldn’t have emailed me? Or Apple? Or Google? Facebook gave us a shocking answer to that question when they have refused to notify everybody who they let get hacked!
But now Facebook has the gall to ask me to spend hundreds of dollars on a device that would only work with a Facebook log in? At first I thought the headlines about the Facebook Portal might be from The Onion.
I read through a few dozen tweets about the Facebook Portal from random people on Twitter and without exception, they were all saying the same thing — there’s no way they’ll be trusting a Facebook product with cameras and always-listening microphones to protect their privacy.
Here’s the most succinct tweet about it:
Facebook Portal Is The Last Device You’d Want Looking At You.
So what does all this have to do with our investment in Facebook. Now that’s a bigger question, because I’m not sure this stupid Facebook home invasion product is going to matter much to Facebook’s earnings one way or another. In fact, it might be better for Facebook investors if this Portal product fails miserably. Facebook is probably selling each one at a loss and if the product fails as bad as Snapchat Spectacles did, that might be better for investors anyway.
Do you guys remember in 2012 when I did this fundamental analysis that explained how Facebook could earn several dollars per share in earnings back when it was just barely turning a profit? Let’s do some updated fundamental analysis now that Facebook’s earnings and revenues are much more well defined and understood by Wall Street analysts today than they were back in 2013 when I was explaining how easy it would be for Facebook to grow 2012’s revenues of $3 billion to many times that by 2018.
And here we are today with Facebook about to crank out more than $50 billion in sales this year and analysts are expecting that number to grow to $70 billion next year. Facebook’s earnings back in 2012 when I first started doing my proprietary fundamental Revolution Investing analysis on Facebook were pretty much non-existent, but in 2018, Facebook will earn more than $7 per share and next year that number is expected to be over $8 per share. With a market cap right now of about $450 billion, that means FB is trading at just over six times next year’s revenues estimates but because, as I’d explained back in 2013 they would be, Facebook has such huge gross margins, the stock is trading at less than 20x next year’s earnings estimates.
I don’t think the hacking issue and certainly not the Facebook Portal devices are doing to change those revenue and earnings trends.
I’ve trimmed our core FB holding several times along the way and a couple times earlier this year. I’m not looking to buy any Facebook shares back anytime soon. But I’m going to continue holding the remaining FB shares I have for now. Even as I remain very angry at Facebook’s handling of the way mine and the 2% of their user base that got hacked and astonished that they even tried to roll out the Portal products in the midst of our anger.