Investing in AI or VR Stocks? Don't Overlook Meta Platforms in 2022

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With big new investments in data centers, servers, and network infrastructures, Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:FB) is focused on the future in 2022. In this Backstage Pass clip from “The AI/ML Show” recorded on Jan. 5, Motley Fool contributor Jose Najarro takes a detailed look at the familiar social media company that’s transforming itself into a creator of the metaverse. 

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Jose Najarro: I want to take a quick look about Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook. I’m going to take a quick look at three things. First, just the current market it’s hitting. Second a little bit about its financials and thirdly where I see this future growth and how it can play really strong in this artificial intelligence machine learning market.

The current market, Meta Platforms, Facebook, I’m probably just going to be switching between the names, whichever comes to my mind first. But Meta Platforms, we can see in most recent earnings $29 billion. Most of it comes from the advertising segment. That’s where most of its revenue is coming from. I believe, for the next few years, that’s where most of its revenue is going to continue to come from. Many people just, I feel even myself when I first started looking into Meta Platforms or Facebook, I pretty much only knew Facebook as the main application I had. Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Obviously, I knew about its Oculus platform.

But it also has three other smaller segments that are pretty interesting. Workplace is pretty much Slack maybe or Discord, it’s kind of the Facebook version of that. Chatting for the workforce. Portal is a small tablet to some extent where you can video chat with relatives using WhatsApp or other of their Facebook platforms. For example, my parents in their kitchen have a Portal where they communicate with family members overseas or in other countries and then they have Novi, which is their digital wallet payment system. They’re implementing it to some extent into WhatsApp now. In certain countries, you can transfer money. I know they are testing it out here in the United States. If you have a Novi account, you can send money with this digital wallet through WhatsApp and some of the e-commerce payments are also available in there. That’s the current market. It’s in the advertising.

Once we talk a little bit about the future growth, I’m going to mention how it plays a strong role in artificial intelligence. But first, I want to show more about the financial aspects. Right now, this is a company with no debt to its name, trailing-12-months revenue $112 billion, that is insane, and trailing-12-months net income $40.3 billion. That’s gross profit margins of over 30 percent maybe a little bit less than 30 percent around that 30 percent level. But to me what I really enjoy is that trailing-12-months free cash flow, it’s about $35.8 billion, cash and cash equivalent about 58 billion. Overall, financially, this is a healthy company, plenty of revenue, plenty of net income, plenty of free cash flow, plenty of cash in its balance sheets.

Now, one of the biggest changes that Meta Platforms, or Facebook, has done is they’re really going to go super strong in like the metaverse market. I’m pretty sure that’s the whole change of the name to Meta Platforms. But how big is that change? First, we can see capex for 2021, that’s about 19, they expect $19-$21 billion. Now for the upcoming year they expect about $29-$34 billion. That’s a nice amount of money increase, almost $10 billion on the top end. Where are they going to be using this money? This money is going to be used for investments in data centers, servers, network infrastructures and office facilities. I personally, I guess it all depends on the style of investor one is, or where they want their companies to go. I enjoy this, I want the company that right now they focus in the social aspect. They need to have all these applications that they have.

They’re also focusing a lot in video streaming. I personally don’t have a Facebook, but I keep up to date with all the products that they have. Facebook has this live streaming device. If you go to YouTube gaming or Twitch gaming, where people kind of livestream their events, their gamings or whatever. Stuff like that needs huge data centers to be able to reduce the latency. You don’t want to be watching your video and your video slows down because that’s going to bring you a bad experience. Even though this capex is a huge increase in expense, I do believe it’s an expense that is needed and one that can help out the, overall, all the markets that Facebook or Meta Platforms hits.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.