Facebook’s (FB) stock may be down and out, declining 15% since its data scandal with Cambridge Analytica broke in the middle of March, but that hasn’t stopped Sequoia Fund, the mutual fund, from acquiring a stake in the beleaguered social media giant.
Bloomberg, citing Ruane, Cunniff & Goldfarb, the New York investment firm that runs the Sequoia Fund, reported the firm told clients the data scandal presented a buying opportunity in Facebook. “The recent controversy enabled us to purchase a very unusual business franchise riding several powerful secular trends at a price-earnings multiple only a little higher than that of the overall stock market,” Ruane’s investment committee wrote in a letter dated April 5 and seen by Bloomberg. Bloomberg noted that the Sequoia Fund is aiming to rebound after returns were hurt in 2015 and 2016 because of its holdings in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX), the pharmacy company that was charged with price gouging and fraud. It currently owns positions in two other FAANG stocks: Alphabet (GOOG) and Amazon (AMZN). Currently, Alphabet is the fund’s largest holding, and Amazon is the seventh biggest position for the fund. (See more: Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon: Now ‘Too Big to Fail’?)
For weeks now FAANG stocks have been under pressure, particularly Facebook and Amazon, thanks to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and President Donald Trump’s increasing attacks against Amazon’s business practices. In the case of Cambridge Analytica, Facebook revealed in mid-March that the political consulting firm that worked on President Donald Trump’s election bid accessed the data on as many as 87 million Facebook users without their consent. Since then Facebook has warned that its more than 2 billion users should assume their data was accessed at some point without their permission and said it's taking steps to protect consumers’ privacy and protect the platform from election interference in the midterm elections slated for November. Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s Chief Executive is appearing before Congress later this week. The company is facing a slew of investigations including from the Federal Trade Commission. There are concerns Facebook could face fines from the FTC if it finds the latest scandal violated a consent decree signed back in 2011. (See more: Facebook Now Says More Users Hit By Data Scandal.)
As for Amazon, President Trump has been ratcheting up his attacks on the country’s largest e-commerce player, wondering if the White House could go after it on anti-competition grounds. He also contends Amazon is hurting the United States Postal Office and called The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, a lobbying arm of the company.
Sequoia Fund isn’t the only one that sees an opportunity to accumulate shares of Facebook on the cheap. Eric Bannasch, founder of the Cadian Capital Management hedge fund which has $1.4 billion under management, told Bloomberg the fundamentals remain intact at the company even if its valuation has tumbled. Meanwhile, some analysts have come out in defense of Amazon, urging investors to add to their positions on any dips in the share price. (See also: Buy Amazon.com on the Decline: Wall Street)