Facebook (FB, U$139.92)

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General Comments

Founded in 2004 and listed on the stock market only since 2010, Facebook's market capitalization currently stands at more than $400 billion, making it one of the 10 largest companies in the United States.

Facebook has more users and more time of use than any of its competitors, making it by far the number one social network (users spend an average of 50 minutes on various Facebook applications, compared to 40 minutes in 2014).

The company owns Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, as well as the Oculus product line.

Number of visitors per month
Facebook 1.86 billion
WhatsApp 1.20 billion
Messenger 1 billion
Instagram 600 million

While this number of visitors is impressive and the multiplication of visits is the way to monetize the site, Facebook's true wealth is actually based on the sheer amount of information it holds about its users, their preferences, their tastes, etc.

This information is not sold by Facebook which, on the contrary, protects this data preciously, which it monetizes by selling well-targeted advertisements.

This situation is quite timely as many companies are shifting an increasing portion of their advertising budget to new media.

Facebook continues to invest not only in areas of the future such as virtual reality, augmented reality and everything related to artificial intelligence, but also in the daily development of new tools and functions that keep users in their ecosystem.

On the other hand, although the company's penetration into the global market is already strong, development, improvement, increased service offerings and access to the Internet in certain parts of the world will also benefit Facebook in the medium and long term.

In a changing world in which television, the Internet and virtual reality are converging more and more, Facebook is particularly well positioned to be at the forefront of this revolution!

Other Disnat GPS reports available in the GPS section of the Disnat website: Apple, Disney, Nike, Cisco, Microsoft and AT&T.

Financial Health

Fiscal Year 2014 2015 2016
Long term debt (in billions of dollars) 0 0 0
Debt/equity ratio 0 0 0

Facebook's financial health is one of the strongest around.

The company has no debt and as of December 31, 2016, it holds more than $8 billion in cash and $20 billion in short-term liquid assets.

In addition, last year the company generated free cash flow of more than $11 billion.

These figures are impressive, but above all we believe that Facebook's dominance in its field should eventually make cash flows stable and recurring.

Like utilities (electricity, gas, etc.) or telecommunication companies, Facebook is on the way to becoming a business that derives revenues from captive clients. Obviously, it is less necessary to everyday life than electricity or a telephone, but judging by the behavior of some users...

One can say that Facebook is in particularly enviable financial health which will allow it to continue being a fierce competitor and to be successful in a rapidly changing world.


Compound Yield 1 year 3 years 5 years 10 years
Earnings 54% 52% 49% N/A
Earnings per share 170% 79% 50% N/A

Facebook's revenue and earnings growth over the past five years has been extremely strong.

The accelerating growth is also impressive when comparing earnings between five and three years, and between three years and one year.

Obviously we can not expect such growth to continue indefinitely. When there are already 1.86 billion users, the ability to add many new ones decreases sharply.

That being said, these days the increase in the number of users is probably much less important than the company's ability to monetize their presence as effectively as possible.

In addition, Facebook can also continue to increase the time users stay within its environment, whether through existing products or by using a new range of virtual reality and augmented reality products.

Facebook's dominance in social networking will probably translate into weaker growth in the future but should, however, become increasingly stable and steady for a longer!


Key Ratios Facebook Facebook (5 yr avg) S&P 500
Price/earnings 40.1 N/A 21.3
Forward price/earnings 26.5 N/A 19.6
Dividend yield 0% N/A 2.1%

We have no five-year average for Facebook's price/earnings ratio.

Nevertheless, we can see that its price/earnings and future price/earnings ratios are relatively high.

One factor that explains this situation is the company's robust growth, which allows investors to pay a higher price in terms of price/earnings.

Moreover, the company has no debt and is well positioned in terms of cash.

Given Facebook's anticipated higher growth compared to the S&P 500 and its particularly solid financial strength compared to the index, with a future price/earnings ratio of 26.9 times for Facebook and 19.6 for the market, we believe that this gap is actually smaller than it seems.

At Disnat GPS, we believe the market is pricing Facebook slightly below its fair value. We are therefore very pleased to hold a superior company at a fair price!


Fiscal Year 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Earnings per share ($) 0.01 0.60 1.10 1.29 3.49
Dividend ($) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Number of shares (millions) 2,547 2,778 2,834 2,892 2,890

Facebook is a growing business.

From this perspective, measures such as a steady increase in the dividend or the buyback of shares are not valuable criteria.

As Facebook aims to continue to grow rapidly, it is normal for the company to retain and reinvest profits in research and development, or use them to make certain acquisitions.

With regard to research and development, it is always risky to try to foresee the future, but Facebook seems to focus on fields (augmented and virtual reality) that fit well with its current activities.

Historically, Facebook's acquisitions were well-targeted and well-integrated, and we believe that this will continue.

The strong and widespread use of Facebook puts it in an extremely strong position to develop new products, and above all, to market them to an existing client base!

Explanatory notes

Disnat GPS reports contain five separate sections, each followed by comments from the Disnat GPS Portfolio Strategist regarding the following:

  1. Company Description
  2. Financial Health
  3. Growth
  4. Valuation
  5. Governance

At Disnat GPS, we believe that the topics, ratios and other financial figures presented here are particularly important.

However, for reasons of space, we can not publish all available data. We therefore invite you to read the additional financial information on the Desjardins Online Brokerage website.

Furthermore, this report is an analysis of the condition of a company today, with a medium to long term view. It is in no way an adequate tracking of daily activities of the stock market in general or of this particular company.

For a more regular monitoring of this and other securities held in one of our portfolios, please to subscribe to Disnat GPS now.


This Disnat GPS report is presented for general information purposes only. Desjardins Group, Desjardins Online Brokerage and Disnat GPS assume no responsibility for any errors or omissions and reserve the right to change or revise the contents of this report at any time without notice.

Financial and economic data, including stock quotes, analyses and interpretations thereof, is provided for informational purposes only and should in no way be regarded as a recommendation or advice to buy or sell any security or derivative.

It is possible that Desjardins or Desjardins Securities have already published differing or even contrary opinions to what is expressed herein. These views reflect the different views, assumptions and portfolio analysis methods of the analyst who provided them.

Desjardins Online Brokerage, its directors, officers, employees and agents will not be held liable for damages, losses or expenses incurred as a result of the use of information contained in this report.

All data are from Morningstar (©Morningstar).

The author

Steve Deschesnes

Steve Deschesnes

Economic and financial specialist