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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: March 26, 2020
Posted: March 26, 2020 at 6:49 am
- Facebook is both benefiting and battered by the coronavirus impact MarketWatch
- Facebook Is Just Trying to Keep the Lights On as Traffic Soars in Pandemic The New York Times
- Facebook says coronavirus is pushing usage through the roof, but its business is hurting The Verge
- Facebook And Twitter Are Up To Their Eyeballs In COVID-19 Engagement But They Can't Monetize Most Of It AdExchanger
- Facebook says it's seeing weakening ads business in countries hit by COVID-19 CNBC
- View Full Coverage on Google News
Read the rest here:
Posted: at 6:49 am
Are social media stocks a sound strategy in this market environment?
That's something many on Wall Street are likely wondering as stay-at-home orders are put in place nationwide and millions of U.S. workers keep the corporate engines running from quarantine.
Facebook reported Wednesday that it has seen a spike in activity on its platform during the coronavirus outbreak but that the pandemic's economic impact has also taken a toll on ad sales. The announcement came a day after Twitter withdrew its first-quarter outlook, citing an anticipated softening in advertiser demand.
For Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak, and Michael Binger, president of Gradient Investments, one stock appeared to be the best of the bunch, they told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Wednesday.
"On a technical basis, anyway, Facebook looks like the best of the lot," Maley said, pointing to its stock chart.
"If you look at its 200-week moving average, it has dipped below that line," he said. "It did the same thing back in the deep correction of 2018, but it was able to regain it rather quickly. And even though it's seen a little bit of a deeper drop below that line this time around, it is creeping back up to that level. So, if it can break back above it, that's going to be positive."
Facebook's 200-week moving average was just above $164 as of Wednesday. The stock closed at $156.21, down nearly 3%.
Facebook has also demonstrated strength in that it has performed in line with the broader market during the recent decline, Maley said. Facebook is down about 24% year to date, while the S&P 500 is down just over 23%.
"Usually, when these high flyers really see a big ramp up, when they roll over, they get absolutely clobbered. So, the fact that it's not tells me that investors are a little bit more confident about the long-term prospects for the stock," Maley said. "So, as we come out of this, hopefully come out of this thing somewhat soon, this stock should do quite well."
Binger said the social media theme "couldn't fit any better" in the current environment and predicted that it would "increase the stickiness of some of these social stocks."
"I happen to like Facebook. It's no surprise that their advertising is seeing a little weakness in this pretty dramatic shutdown of the economy here. I mean, most companies are going to put a pause, but, in my opinion, that'll be temporary," Binger said, calling the stock "cheap."
"I think user numbers are a forward indicator of advertising that'll come down the road," he said. "I think advertising will come back strong and probably stronger than it was before."
While Binger said he preferred Facebook over Twitter, one other social stock caught his eye as well.
"It's the up-and-comer in the social space, and I think that's Snap," he said. "I see a lot of people are new users to Snap. Their revenue growth is much higher than the bigger social stocks. They are inflecting to profitability right now, and I think their user engagement is going to go up a lot with all these kids that are staying home and college students that aren't going to college anymore for the rest of this school year."
In short, "I think Snap is the one to really own here," Binger said. "So, in the large-cap space, love Facebook, good balance sheet, but I really think you can make some money on Snap. I think that the stock has been punished more than what the fundamentals are going to reflect."
Investors shouldn't try to play the space by buying Global X's Social Media ETF (SOCL), however, the two agreed. The fund, which climbed by over 1% on Wednesday, has its biggest weightings in the stocks of Tencent, Facebook and South Korean social media platform Naver.
"People obviously like to try the ETFs nowadays. The social media ETF is a pretty illiquid one, and it has nothing to do with what's going on with the health-care crisis right now," Maley said. "It was illiquid before, and it only trades about 16,000 shares a day, so, ... once it gathers more steam someday, it may be a better one to play, but right now, you're going to want to stay away from that."
Snap shares gained over 2% in Wednesday's trading session. Twitter's stock climbed by less than half of 1%.
Posted: at 6:49 am
Facebook Inc (FB) said the coronavirus outbreak is slowing down its advertising sales, even as usage of its social media platforms is growing fast following a lockdown in many countries around the world.
Weve seen a weakening in our ads business in countries taking aggressive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the company said in a statement. The usage growth from COVID-19 is unprecedented across the industry, and we are experiencing new records in usage almost every day.
Wall Street analysts have a bullish call on Facebook shares. Thirty-five out of thirty-eight analysts have a Buy recommendation on the stock, making the consensus rating a Strong Buy. The average price target of $246.53 implies a potential gain of 58% in the coming 12 months. (See Facebook's stock analysis on TipRanks)
Facebook said that in countries hit hardest by the coronavirus, total messaging has grown more than 50% over the last month. In Italy, Facebook has seen a 70% increase in time spent across its apps, and views on Instagram and Facebook Live have doubled in a week.
Group calling with three or more participants increased by over 1,000% in Italy in the last month, the company said.
Related News:Facebook Looks Compelling at Current Levels, Says 5-Star analystCoronavirus Weighs on Squares Ecosystem, Estimates Lowered3 Hot Insider Stock Picks You Need to Know
Local couple uses Facebook to invite guests to their wedding amid coronavirus restrictions, streams wedding live – WGHP FOX 8 Greensboro
Posted: at 6:49 am
It's taking the phrase "Facebook official" to another level! Jess and Trent Hancock tied the knot this weekend, while their guests joined the momentous occasion through their computers and cellphones.
Families gathered in their homes and some even brought their own refreshments.
"It's just felt like this surreal experience of a movie," Jess said.
Jess and Trent's loved ones were determined to make the couple's wedding as special as possible.
"A lot of people tuned in. We had like 80 comments just in the ceremony," Trent said.
The Hancocks gathered on Saturday with their parents and a small bridal party.
They used a cellphone to display their vow to lifelong love on Facebook, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
"This is an untreaded water. This is something not seen before but if we're going to face it I wanted to face it together," Trent said.
The couple knew a week before the wedding their plans would change drastically.
The CDC had recently announced that gatherings should be limited to 100 people. That number got even smaller as the CDC and governor made restrictions on large groups.
"We were a little worried about how to make that decision of who should be included and who shouldn't," Jess said.
Jess and Trent made a Facebook group for their guests, giving all of their attendees a chance to view their love story.
The people who showed up to make the Facebook wedding possible took precautions.
"Our photographers showed up in masks and gloves to protect themselves and their families," Jess said.
The Hancocks' parents and bridal party made sure to keep their distance from each other during the ceremony and reception.
"We had set a precedent that there would be no physical contact between us and others in our party," Jess said.
Despite being unconventional, it's a memory they'll never forget.
Posted: at 6:49 am
If you head over to Facebook's Portal website today, you'll find that the company's $149 Portal TV, a video calling device that captures your video communication with others and uses your television as a viewing device, is sold out. In a statement to CNBC, Facebook said that other Portal products, including the standalone video conferencing devices Portal mini, Portal, and Portal+, are also attracting customer interest, but haven't sold out yet.
"As people are taking measures to socially distance themselves and move to working from home, we're seeing increased interest in Portal, both in sales and usage," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC. "We're pleased that we can help people connect with family, friends and colleagues during this time."
But there may be another element to the Portal TV being out of stock: the company's spokesperson also said that Facebook has been hit with production problems because of quarantines along its supply chain. In other words, Facebook also has a supply problem.
Still, the irony isn't lost on anyone who has followed the tech industry for as long as I have.
But in a world in which social distancing is the norm and families can no longer come together, tools like Facebook's Portal have suddenly becomeimportant. Indeed, one of the things Facebook Portal is best at is facilitating simple communication with other Facebook users -- including family and friends.
Of course, you can also do that with Apple's FaceTime, Zoom, or other tools. But to its credit, Facebook Portal has made the process simpler and more fun, with the ability to use graphics and other components during conversations.
Facebook Portal, in other words, was designed for social distancing.
Published on: Mar 25, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
Posted: at 6:49 am
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Alphabet's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google have experienced an uptick in usage as people turn to social media for information, entertainment, and solace amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
But that isn't going to stop either company from seeing a slowdown in advertising sales. With travel coming to a halt, stores across the globe shuttered to foot traffic, and layoffs mounting, advertisers are reining in their ad spending.
How bad the loss will be depends on the length of the pandemic. But if China is any indication, it's going to be many billions of dollars.
Image source: Getty Images.
Prior to COVID-19, eMarketer had expected ad spending in China to come in at $121.13 billion, representing growth of 10.2%. It has now tempered that to 8.4% growth, with total ad spending in China projected to reach $113.67 billion. That marks the slowest growth rate in China since the firm started tracking ad spending back in 2011.
Print advertising is expected to take the biggest hit, but digital ad spending isn't immune. According to eMarketer, it previously expected 15.2% growth in digital ad spending totaling $86.3 billion. It's now projecting growth of 13%.
Keep in mind this forecast was made before the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. rose dramatically. That estimate could be at risk if the outbreak languishes in the U.S. and elsewhere and results in the cancellation of major sporting events. The NBA and NHL are among the professional sports leagues to end or cancel their seasons. Meanwhile, the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo have been postponed, which eMarketer warned would result in a "meaningful" reduction in ad spending around the globe. That means billions of dollars in ads could be lost to the likes of Facebook, Google, and others.
It's already impacting microblogging platform operator Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), which this week pulled its guidance for the first quarter due to the coronavirus outbreak. Twitter cited a slowdown in advertising sales over the past few weeks.
Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg highlighted the uncertainty in a recent interview with Bloomberg. The social media giant can continue to pay employees and maintain operations, she said, but the hit to advertising sales is a big unknown
This is not going to be business as usual, and the marketing industry is certainly going to see a real impact. I don't think anyone knows how big. So we're going to watch and look.
While digital ads are more immune to a slowdown given the increase in online shopping and internet usage in the wake of COVID-19, they're also some of the easiest to adjust. With the economy in a tailspin, advertisers are being more cautious in terms of spending, and that includes digital ads.
"At $70 [billion], [Facebook] was 50% of global display ad revenue in 2019, so cutting FB ads is the fastest way to cut costs for its clients," Needham wrote in a recent research report. "FB had 7 [million] active advertisers in 4Q19, suggesting that many are small and may have to eliminate ad spending to survive."
The Wall Street firm does think the virus will be contained by the middle of June.
That's the case with e-commerce giant Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN). Last week Tinuiti, a marketing agency that controls around $1.5 billion in annual spending for several advertisers said Amazon has significantly slashed its spend on Google. Amazon is just one customer. If more follow, it's easy to see how ad sales decline. That's particularly worrisome for Google given that part of its business is already experiencing a slowdown in growth. It doesn't help that a big portion of Google and Facebook's ad revenue comes from travel, retail, consumer packaged goods, and entertainment.
Concerns about the impact coronavirus will have on ad spending is already reflected in the share prices of Facebook and Google, which have been plummeting along with the rest of the market all month. Year to date, Facebook's stock is down more than 28% while Google is down 21%.
But there is potentially good news out of the coronavirus-induced malaise. The pullback in advertising should be temporary even if there doesn't seem to be an end in sight right now. Unlike with the aftermath of 9/11, which ushered in a recession, there aren't any underlying weaknesses in fundamentals. Once the virus is contained, assuming it's sooner rather than later,Facebook and Google's ad business should go back to business as usual. Add depressed stock prices to the mix and the loss in digital ad spending presents an opportunity for bargain-hunting investors.
Posted: at 6:49 am
India is home to Facebooks largest user base on the planet, with hundreds of millions of people using its digital services. It now wants to get a stronger foothold in the country as more folks come online.
Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that the social media giant is aiming to buy a stake in Indias biggest mobile carrier, Reliance Jio.
Jio, started over three years ago by multi-billionaire Mukesh Ambani, took on complacent incumbents like Airtel and Vodafone, and led the charge to make mobile data more affordable in the country.As a result, India has the cheapest data plans across the world. Now, Reliance Jio is the biggest telecom provider in the country with over 370 million subscribers.
As per FTs report, Facebook was close to signing a preliminary deal for a 10 percent share, but the deal was put off due to coronavirus outbreak. But why is the worlds biggest social network keen to invest in an Indian network telecom company? Whats in it for these companies? Lets have a look.
With more than 300 million Facebook users and 400 million WhatsApp users in the country,what possible would the social media giant want? The answer is the next billion users those who are getting on the internet for the first time in Indias developing economy.
In 2015, Facebook introduced a program called Free Basics, which aimed to provide some apps free to users by partnering with some network providers.
The companys motive behind was to make Facebook a gateway to the internet for these first-time users with the company in control of the content that people would be able to access for free. That had the potential to shape the idea of the World Wide Web for those users, while also making Facebook the most prominent brand in their online experience.
So, by the time they graduate to the wider web, Facebook would become a major part of how they navigate the digital world. However, in 2016, India banned the Free Basics project, as it violated the countrys net neutrality rules, which dictated that all content online must be treated equally by service providers.
With Free Basics gone, the social media giant looked to other ways of garnering traction with new internet users in India. In 2017, it launched a commercial Wi-Fi program called Express Wifi, which allows mom-and-pop stores to provide internet access to shoppers via hotspots at a nominal rate. It currently has 500 local retailers signed up, and more than 10,000 hotspots across India. It isnt clear just how many people are using those hotspots, though.
With Free Basics gone, the social media giant relied on some traction with its commercial WiFi program Express Wifi that allows mom and pop stores to provide hotspots at a cheaper rate. Currently, it has500 local entrepreneur retailers are now live with more than 10,000 hotspots across India. But theres no detail on how many people are using those hotspots.
With Reliance Jio, the social network can start afresh and reach more people in rural areas. The network company also offers smart feature phones, dubbed JioPhone, powered by KaiOS, that can serve apps such as YouTube, Facebook, and WhatsApp. With targeted marketing campaigns carried out by both companies, more people can use Facebooks set of apps.
Another threat to Facebook is the rapid rise of Chinese apps such as TikTok and Bigo Live. Jayanth Kolla, a partner at consultancy firm Convergence Capital, noted that with slowing growth in the Indian market, Reliance Jio is the ideal partner for the social media giant to battle the Chinese onslaught:
Reliance Jio has presented itself as a truly digital company for an average Indian. Plus, Jios great at spurring a word-of-mouth marketing, so partnering with Facebook presents a great opportunity forboth of them to challenge the likes of TikTok.
Notably,Jio has a stack of entertainment apps to woo users, including JioCinema for movies, JioTV for live TV, and JioSaavn for music streaming. However, it doesnt operate a social network of its own yet.
WhileReliance Jio has masterfully executed an ambitious growth strategy in India, its tech offerings havent really caught on. Its smartphones havent sold well; indigenous made-for-India projects, such as a maps service, a voice assistant, and a VR headset have all flopped.
It has even attempted projects like a telemedicine service, and an AI-powered video call assistant. A partner with the ability to build capable and desirable technologies, like Facebook, could certainly help turn the tide for the enterprising carrier. And should Jio look to enter other markets beyond India, Facebooks backing could make negotiations go a little easier.
Both companies can also benefit from partnering in streaming live sports. Right now, Facebook streams live matches of the Spanish La Ligasoccer league in India, while Jio has the rights to select soccer and cricket tournaments.
In 2017, both Facebook and Jio separately put in multimillion-dollar bids towin the digital streaming rights of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament series. While the lucrative five-year-deal went to Ruper Murdoch-owned Star Network, both internet giants could join hands to bid for these rights again in 2022.
As FT noted, Reliance Jio is valued at around $60 billion by analysts. Selling a 10 percent stake will bring Reliance closer to its goal of going debt-free by 2021.
For Facebook, this presents an opportunity to explore thenext-billion-user landscape with a partner that already has a significant reach in India.It also means the social media giant has a better partner in Indias complex policy lobby, where Reliance has a strong hand.
Read next: Surprising no one, there'll probably be a months-long iPhone 12 delay
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Posted: at 6:49 am
The coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. has resulted in empty streets, shuttered businesses, and gut-wrenching impacts on everything from the restaurant industry to live entertainment. But as Americans remain stuck in their homes, some businesses, from grocery stores to Amazon, find themselves instead struggling to keep up with an unprecedented demandand not even Facebook has figured out how to smoothly navigate the surge. The company reported Wednesday that the global pandemic is hitting the social media behemoth hard, as Facebook users around the world turn to its platforms just as its workforce is adjusting to the new reality. Were just trying to keep the lights on over here, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the New York Times in an interview published Wednesday. Ive never seen anything like this before.
Facebooks traffic has heavily benefitted from the coronavirus outbreak, with the company reporting that messaging has increased by 50% and video calls on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have doubled in countries hit hard by the pandemic. According to an internal Facebook report analyzed by the Times, the company has also seen an unprecedented increase in the consumption of news articles on Facebook as a result of the coronavirus, which has accounted for more than 50% of its news consumption in the U.S. Yet while the increased business is a boon for Facebook, its also putting a massive strain on an infrastructure that wasnt prepared for such a sustained surge. Our services were built to withstand spikes during events such as the Olympics or on New Years Eve. However, those happen infrequently, and we have plenty of time to prepare for them, the company wrote in a blog post. The usage growth from COVID-19 is unprecedented across the industry, and we are experiencing new records in usage almost every day. Though Facebooks response has benefited from the social network being banned in China, where coronavirus quarantines would have put an even bigger strain on its system, and having global Facebook usage spread out across time zones, Zuckerberg told the Times that the company was mobilizing its engineers to try and get a handle on the unexpected traffic boom. It really is a big technical challenge, Zuckerberg said. Were basically trying to ready everything we can.
Part of the issue for Facebook is that its workforce isnt accustomed to the work-from-home policy now being demanded by the pandemic, as Facebook has typically discouraged remote working and wasnt equipped for its 45,000 employees to go remote all at once. As a result, the Times reports, issues quickly piled up, from buggy video chats to a widespread A.I. glitch that marked legitimate news from mainstream outlets as spam. While the bug was routine, the Times notes, Facebook managers said that thanks to the new remote workflow, the amount of time it took to fix it was not. Facebooks content moderation has also suffered because of the companys decision to put its massive team of moderators on paid leave, as the company believed they couldnt effectively perform their work from home. This means some reports will not be reviewed as quickly as they used to be and we will not get to some reports at all, the company noted. While some full-time employees will moderate the most sensitive and necessary content to take down, the network will rely more heavily on artificial intelligence to screen its contentwhich, as the news glitch proved, isnt always a reliable solution. I do think its reasonable to expect that for some of the other categories where the severity might not be as imminent or extreme, that we may be a little less effective in the near term while were adjusting to this, Zuckerberg told the Times.
Facebooks struggle to address its coronavirus surge reflects how the coronavirus outbreak has, for the tech industry, been a double-edged sword. Silicon Valley has been a key player in the coronavirus responseFacebook alone has unveiled a suite of new features to help keep the public informedand reaped the rewards of a global population forced to sit at home and communicate virtually with their loved ones. But as Facebook's struggle to keep up suggests, there are also downsides to having unprecedented popularityand even the tech behemoth isnt immune from the economic realities of the pandemic. Though Facebooks free features are being used widely, the company and other tech giants like Alphabet and Twitter are facing the same issue as media outlets across the globe, as advertisers facing decreased business pull the ad revenue the media industry needs to survive. We dont monetize many of the services where were seeing increased engagement, and weve seen a weakening in our ads business in countries taking aggressive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Facebook said in its blog post. While Facebooks size and outsized role in the online ad business means the company will likely weather the storm better than the local news outlets expected to take the hardest hit, its clear that in these unprecedented times, not even Silicon Valleys biggest names are going to emerge scot-free.
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Posted: at 6:49 am
CNBC's Jim Cramer has spent recent weeks outlining publicly traded companies that are performing well, moderately well and poorly since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak.
On Wednesday, the "Mad Money" host revealed a new faction within the stock market: laggards that are waiting to break out.
"Right now, we've also got a fourth category: companies that are currently stinking up the joint, but should thrive when things get back to normal," he said.
Some of the titans in tech are included in Cramer's new bunch. The corporations that are struggling now but that he expects to return to form are Appleand Facebook.
China, ground zero of what has now become a global health pandemic, was the first country and economy to be hit by the virus. Businesses operations there, where many American enterprises such as Apple assemble products, were either forced shut or lost productivity as the Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China, was shut down in late January. Apple also decided to close its store outside of Greater China for much of the month of March to help combat the virus's spread.
Two months later, Chinese authorities say restrictions will be lifted on the Hubei capital of Wuhan next month. Meanwhile, American companies such asStarbucksand Hormel have restored their China operations.
On Tuesday night, Deutsche Bank upgraded stock in the iPhone maker to a "buy" from "hold." Apple stock is down nearly $82 from its Feb. 12 close.
"China's coming back online, and sooner or later the same thing is going to happen in Europe and the United States," Cramer said, adding that he expects "Apple to come back stronger than before."
As for Facebook, the social media giant warned earlier in the day that its advertising business is taking a hit due to the fast-spreading virus, despite an increase in traffic on its platforms.
Facebook shares are down $67 from its record high close Jan. 29. At $156.21 per share, it's up 14% from its lowest trade during the outbreak.
"It's not as strong as Apple, but it might be worth owning if the stock gets driven low enough," Cramer said. "Turns out, Facebook's a lot more cyclical than most people thought because, at the end of the day, it's advertising, and the ad industry is cyclical."
Among Cramer's winners areZoom Video, Zscaler, Crowdstrike, Teladoc Health and Nike. He identified Johnson & Johnsonas among the drug and consumer staple stocks that are "slow-and-steady" growers.
The cruise lines, he added, are in extreme danger, even with government aid to keep the companies above water. Their ships were an initial focal point of the epidemic as multiple vessels and passengers were forced into quarantine after riders tested positive for COVID-19.
Shares in both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line shot up 23% in Wednesday's session.
"The cruise lines can't recover until people stop being scared. That won't happen until we beat this thing and then people put it out their memory," Cramer said. "That's the opposite of Zoom, so if you still own any cruise stocks ... you've got to use this strength to get out of them, even if the government does its best to save them."
Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Facebook, Apple and Johnson & Johnson.
Questions for Cramer?Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC
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Posted: at 6:49 am
OUACHITA PARISH, La. (KNOE) - The Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office wants to let residents know of a Facebook scam.
They say they are investigating a Facebook post where a legitimate account in the name of Mark Parker was hacked.
They go on to say:
The post is asking for donations to help supply area first responders with various sanitizers, gloves and other equipment as local agencies supplies have been depleted.
This is a SCAM. The post is completely false and is designed to defraud residents of cash or goods by taking advantage of their generosity and desire to help local first responders. Delete this post if you see it on your page.
Be wary of any future posts, particularly of this nature during COVID-19, and confirm the authenticity of any group soliciting money or goods from you before you donate.
While this particular one involves social media, be aware SCAMS will be attempted by phone and other means as well.
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