NEW YORK: Facebook's parent firm Meta on Thursday lost over $200 billion in stock value -- comparable to the size of New Zealand's economy -- after results that raised doubts about the troubled social media giant's future.
In addition to costs of big investments on its metaverse vision for the internet and trouble for its core ads business, the firm predicted slower growth and even saw a dip in daily users on the signature Facebook platform.
Facebook has long been marked by an insatiable drive for growth, and now has nearly two billion daily users but the results laid bare the challenges facing it on several fronts.
Shares were down 25.6 percent shortly after the opening in New York, resulting in a roughly $200 billion hit to the company's market value.
"It's a black-eye quarter," Wedbush's Dan Ives said.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had some $20 billion in value wiped from his personal holding by the rout on Wall Street, according to filings on the company stock he owns.
Raising market doubts
Meta, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, has noted that it faces fierce competition for young users from the likes of explosively growing short-form video platform TikTok.
Analysts expected 1.95 billion daily active users on Facebook, but Meta reported 1.93 billion -- a key indicator of the growth trajectory for a company fueled by the people who choose to interact with its platforms.
On the financial side, Meta achieved a turnover of $33.67 billion, in line with its forecasts, but it made $10.3 billion in net profit in the fourth quarter, eight percent less than last year.
One way out of its troubles would be to acquire the next big thing in social media, as it has done previously.
But Meta is under considerable scrutiny from US regulators after the damning allegations that emerged from its whistleblower crisis last year.
The internal documents leaked by ex-worker Frances Haugen highlighted accusations that executives prioritized growth over keeping their billions of users safe.
However, Thursday's dramatic sell-off is the latest to confront a Big Tech firm after a similar liquidation of Netflix shares last month, though the streaming giant has somewhat rebounded since.
Other tech giants such as Apple and Google parent Alphabet have rallied after results -- though they both recently posted excellent numbers that calmed jittery markets.
Stocks have risen the last four days as the markets try to rebound from a bruising January pressured by worries over shifting US Federal Reserve policy and uncertainty over Ukraine.
But the shap fall in Meta and some other tech names "is raising doubts about the sustainability of the broader rebound effort," said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare.