Headwinds will slow growth for Meta; Should investors sell now?

This former trillion-dollar company's value has been slashed by more than half.

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This article was originally published on Fool.com. All figures quoted in US dollars unless otherwise stated.

Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: META) held an internal conference on June 30, during which CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees to brace for impact. The social media giant that has turned into a metaverse business has, for several quarters, warned investors that it faces headwinds that are hurting its ability to grow revenue. 

Those include changes from Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) that make it more difficult for Meta to track its users across apps. Rising competition from short-form video site TikTok has also forced Meta to make adjustments, hurting sales in the near term. Let's look at the recent revelation and determine if investors should jump ship and sell the stock now. 

Meta Platforms takes austerity measures amid slowing growth

One of the significant insights from reports of the meeting was Meta's reduced plans for hiring. The company had initially planned to hire 10,000 engineers. It has now reduced that goal to between 6,000 and 7,000. And the company is increasing performance goals, making work more challenging for existing staff.

Zuckerberg admitted this might cause some employees to quit, and that self-selection is something he said he would be totally fine with. Instead of outright layoffs, it looks like Meta is raising work standards. The result could be improved performance by many workers, while others quit.

"Part of my hope by raising expectations and having more aggressive goals, and just kind of turning up the heat a little bit, is that I think some of you might decide that this place isn't for you, and that self-selection is OK with me," Zuckerberg said.

The increased focus on cutting costs is no surprise considering earlier updates from Meta Platforms suggesting the slowest revenue growth in the company's history. In its most recent quarter, revenue increased by 7% from the same quarter in the prior year. Management expects revenue to be flat in the upcoming quarter.

META Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) Chart

META revenue (quarterly YoY growth). Data by YCharts.

For years, the company has benefited from collecting information on its users across apps and then using that data to sell targeted advertising. Marketers were willing to pay more for this type of advertising because it offers more precision and less waste. No longer were restaurants in San Diego paying for ads shown to folks in Boise, Idaho.

Another headwind is resulting from Meta's adjustment to changing consumer tastes. Folks are increasingly engaging with short-form videos in favor of photos. Meta's apps have been geared to benefit from interaction with photos. It will take time for Meta to optimize the platforms to the newer consumer habits, hurting revenue in the near term.

Those headwinds appear to be longer lasting than initially expected, hence the austerity measures mentioned above. 

The challenges are already priced into Meta Platforms' stock

META PE Ratio Chart

META P/E ratio. Data by YCharts. P/E = price to earnings.

While Meta's challenges should not be underestimated, they are no reason to sell now. The stock is already down 58% off its highs, so the risks mentioned above are arguably already priced in. Meta is trading at a price-to-earnings ratio of 12 and a price-to-free-cash-flow of 11, near the lowest the stock has sold for in the last five years. 

This article was originally published on Fool.com. All figures quoted in US dollars unless otherwise stated.

Parkev Tatevosian has positions in Apple. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Apple. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has recommended the following options: long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips. 

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