A Beginner's Guide to Buying Facebook (Meta) Stock

Suffice it to say Meta (META), formerly Facebook, has had its ups and downs over the past few years, and so has its stock price. Ever since its initial public offering in May 2012, it has remained a high-profile company that consistently captures the public's imagination.

One of the largest US companies, Meta is held widely by both retail and institutional investors. As Facebook, it was included with other tech heavyweights in the popular FAANG acronym alongside Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX), and Alphabet (GOOG) unit Google. Its shares enjoyed an exceptionally strong and relatively smooth rise for years after the IPO, but that has been punctuated by shareholder concern around data privacy scandals and anti-trust investigations. Meta shares overcame those issues, reaching all-time highs in August 2021, only to plummet 25% on Feb. 3, 2022, after the company provided quarterly results and a revenue outlook that trailed analysts' estimates.

Key Takeaways

  • Meta (formerly Facebook) has grown to become one of the largest and most well-known tech companies in the world.
  • Since its IPO in 2012, the company's shares have risen greatly, and despite some bumps in the road, reached all-time highs in the summer of 2021 before plunging 25% on Feb. 3, 2022 after Meta issued quarterly results and a revenue outlook below the average of analyst estimates.
  • The stock continued to slump throughout 2022, reaching lows not seen since 2015.
  • Before deciding to buy the stock, be sure to research the company's business fundamentals and consider market trends.

2018-2022: Some Very Bad Years

Of course, the social media giant has not been exempt from problems, and they came to a head in 2018. Issues of serious concern had been building for years over Facebook's (now Meta's) handling of user privacy and fake news, the company's implicit role in permitting the site's use by criminals and terrorists, and a user data breach of massive proportions.

Facebook experienced its most severe backlash for inadvertently assisting the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to data-mine and exploit millions of user profiles that appear to have been misused to target political ads during the U.S. presidential election season and in the U.K.'s Brexit referendum campaign. 

Partly as a result of that personal data scandal, Facebook issued lower guidance for ad revenue in its July 2018 earnings report, which contributed to the company's stock plummeting as much as 22% intraday. This marked the stock's biggest intraday decline until Feb. 3, 2022, when shares plunged as much as 27% at the morning lows. In fact, the 2018 drop marked the largest loss of market value in the history of the U.S. stock market by a single stock at about $119 billion, until the Feb. 3, 2022 slump initially estimated to have drained $230 billion in market value.

Throughout 2022, META stuck continued to struggle, reaching lows not seen since the year 2015. This came off of a broader selloff in tech stocks, plus large fines and negative regulatory rulings from EU regulators, claiming that the company broke the law by forcing users into receiving targeted ads and violating their privacy. In fact, META stock was down more than 60% for the year 2022, making that its worst to date on record.

META Stock Price (IPO thru 2022)
META Stock Price (IPO thru 2022).

How to Analyze Meta

Buyers at the lows on the stock's worst days are likely to be aware of the problems causing the decline, and to be counting on scooping up a bargain amid bearish sentiment. Some will arrive at that judgement only after a careful analysis of the company's prospects.

With this guide, beginning investors should get a better idea of how to navigate through potential pitfalls and what to look for when considering investing in Meta (META) and similar stocks. Venturing into the stock market can be frightening, but every seasoned investor was once a beginner.

Before buying any stock, investors should perform due diligence to ensure that the company and stock have the potential to perform well. Due diligence can include different forms of analysis, the most basic being fundamental analysis and technical analysis.

  • In fundamental analysis, the investor evaluates the intrinsic value of the stock by considering the overall economy and industry conditions as well as the finances and management of the company.
  • Technical analysis uses statistics that include the stock's past prices and volume. Rather than looking at a company's intrinsic value, technical analysis focuses on identifying patterns and trends in the stock’s current and future price movements.

Fundamentally, investors should research the company’s financials. These can be found in its latest SEC filings. The company’s website should have an investor relations page. Financial sites like our own Investopedia also offer exceptionally useful company-specific information.

Doing Due Diligence

To make a case for buying Meta stock, the investor should analyze ad revenue growth, including mobile growth, usage trends, risks to operations, and outlook and guidance. 

Also look at the trends for profit margins, total revenue, and monthly active users (MAU). Are these numbers going up, down, or sideways?

After doing one's due diligence and feeling comfortable with the decision to buy the stock, the investor should determine if the current price is an appropriate entry point. 

Fundamental analysts calculate valuation metrics to determine if the stock is undervalued (when the entry price is most attractive) or overvalued (investors may want to wait for the price to come down before buying the stock). The price-earnings ratio (P/E Ratio) is a common valuation metric, but there are many others.  The P/E ratio for Meta was 12.4 as of January 2023. In isolation, that doesn't tell the investor much. However, if it's compared to historical or industry P/E ratios, it can help determine how the stock is valued relative to its past and competitors.

Another way to see if the stock price is at a good entry point is to look at its historical stock chart trends. Technical analysis attempts to use price and volume data to analyze trends in supply and demand and find favorable entry points based on common trading patterns.

If You Decide It's a Buy

Once the investor determines that the stock is a good value at the current price, the next step is to calculate the number of shares to buy. Most online brokerages have a share calculator attached to their stock purchase process. Otherwise, the calculation is:

Total Amount Desired to Invest / Price per Share = Number of Shares to Purchase

The current price per share, which for Meta was around $130.00 on January 8, 2023. This share price puts the company's market capitalization at roughly $340 billion.

For Meta, if the total purchase amount is $10,000 at a price per share of $130, the investor can buy:

$10,000 / $130 = 76.9 shares 

What has been the performance of Meta's stock price over the past few years?

Since its IPO in 2013, META stock has risen sharply, reaching an all-time high of nearly $380 (split-adjusted) in the Fall of 2021, after a rocky 2018. However, 2022 saw the company's stock fall more than 60%, hitting levels not seen since 2015.

What factors have contributed to the fluctuations in META's stock price?

META's stock is driven by both company-specific and tech-industry forces. In 2022, the tech sector slumped, but META also saw its stock fall more than the tech-heavy NASDAQ 100 index. Meta has faced several data privacy concerns, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, which resulted in a steep decline in the company's stock price, as well an early 2023 ruling by EU regulators that fined the company hundreds of millions of euros for breaking online privacy laws. Meta has also faced anti-trust investigations, which have contributed to investor concerns about the company.

How can I research the company's business fundamentals before deciding to buy the stock?

There are several ways to research a company's business fundamentals before deciding to buy its stock:

  1. Review the company's financial statements: You can review the company's income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows to get a sense of its financial performance and position. This will help you understand how the company is generating and using its resources, and whether it is financially healthy.
  2. Analyze the company's financial ratios: Financial ratios, such as the price-to-earnings ratio (P/E ratio) and the debt-to-equity ratio, can help you evaluate the company's financial performance and risk profile.
  3. Read company news and press releases: Keep up to date with the latest news and developments at the company by reading its press releases and news articles. This can help you understand the company's strategy, growth plans, and any challenges it is facing.
  4. Research the industry: Understanding the industry in which the company operates can help you gauge the company's competitive position and the potential for future growth.
  5. Consult with a broker or financial advisor: If you are unsure about whether to invest in a particular stock, it can be helpful to consult with an advisor or other financial professional who can provide additional guidance and help you make an informed decision.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, Facebook's stock has experienced significant fluctuations and faced a number of challenges, including data privacy scandals, and regulatory investigations. Potential investors should carefully research the company's business fundamentals and consider market trends before deciding to buy the stock. The company's reliance on ad revenue and potential for government regulation and competition from newer social media platforms are among the risks to consider. Additionally, the company may face backlash from users or advertisers over controversial content or data privacy issues and could reach a saturation point in terms of user growth and have difficulty maintaining user engagement.

The comments, opinions, and analyses expressed herein are for informational purposes only and should not be considered individual investment advice or recommendations to invest in any security or adopt any investment strategy. Though we believe the information provided herein is reliable, we do not warrant its accuracy or completeness. The views and strategies described in our content may not be suitable for all investors. Because market and economic conditions are subject to rapid change, all comments, opinions, and analyses contained within our content are rendered as of the date of the posting and may change without notice. The material is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any country, region, market, industry, investment, or strategy.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Facebook. "Facebook Announces Pricing of Initial Public Offering."

  2. Morningstar. "Meta Platforms Inc Class A Valuation."

  3. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Facebook to Pay $100 Million for Misleading Investors About the Risks It Faced From Misuse of User Data."

  4. Facebook, Inc. (FB). "Second Quarter 2018 Results Conference Call." pp. 15-17.

  5. Yahoo Finance. "Meta Platforms, Inc. (FB): Historical Data."

  6. Yahoo Finance. "Meta Platforms, Inc. (FB): Historical Data."

  7. CNBC. "Facebook’s $100 Billion-Plus Rout Is the Biggest Loss in Stock Market History."

  8. CNBC. "Facebook Stock Plummets 26%, on Pace for Its Biggest One-Day Drop Ever."

  9. New York Times. "Meta’s Ad Practices Ruled Illegal Under E.U. Law."

  10. Morningstar. "Meta Platforms Inc Class A."

Take the Next Step to Invest
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.