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Facebook shares hit record as growth optimism continues to mount



Facebook Inc. shares hit a record on Monday, with the social-media company taking out a peak that has stood since August as fears fade about the impact of new privacy policies from Apple Inc, Bloomberg reported.

The stock rose as much as 3% Monday to touch an intraday record of $307.73. Facebook has gained about 20% off a recent low and has added about 12% thus far this year, outperforming the Nasdaq 100 Index.

Major technology and Internet stocks have broadly performed well this year. Of the so-called FAAMG names — a group that also includes Apple, Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Google-parent Alphabet Inc. — Amazon is the only one that hasn’t hit an intraday record in 2021.

Facebook’s recent gains came after Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg downplayed the risk that the social-media company could see as a result of an upcoming change to Apple’s privacy policies. That issue was seen as a headwind, and a reason that Facebook warned of “significant uncertainty” in 2021 earlier this year, according to Bloomberg.

The company also got a positive mention in Barron’s over the weekend, which said Facebook is a “growth machine” and its stock could gain 20% if it returns to the average premium it’s traded at for the past five years.

Analysts remain broadly positive on Facebook’s growth prospects, especially amid a recovery in the market for digital ads.

Morgan Stanley recently touted Facebook’s valuation and fundamental strength, and forecast “sustained outsized growth.”

Of the firms tracked by Bloomberg that cover Facebook, more than 85% recommend buying the stock, while fewer than 6% have a bearish rating. The average price target is $336, which implies upside of roughly 10%.

Facebook is scheduled to report first-quarter results later this month. Wall Street is expecting both earnings per share and revenue to rise more than 30%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The personal data of more than half a billion Facebook Inc. users reemerged online for free on Saturday, a reminder of the company’s ability to collect mountains of information and its struggles to protect these sensitive assets.

The leak includes personal information on 533 million Facebook users, such as phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birth dates, bios and in some cases email addresses, Business Insider reported.

“This is old data that was previously reported on in 2019,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote in an email statement. “We found and fixed this issue in August 2019.”

At the time, the company addressed a flaw in its technology that allowed the information to leak out. However, once such data escapes from Facebook’s network, the company has limited power to stop it from spreading online.

Alon Gal, chief technology officer of cybercrime intelligence firm Hudson Rock, discovered the data again on Saturday.

Databases, especially if they are large or rare, aren’t often shared widely right away because “the people who hold it will attempt to monetize it for as long as they can,” Gal said in a message on Twitter. “The process sometimes takes years, sometimes days, but eventually all private databases leak if they were sold around.”

Data leaks threaten to undermine Facebook’s business model of gathering a large amount of personal information and using that to sell targeted ads.


The information is available for free on a hacking forum, making it widely accessible to anyone with rudimentary data skills, Business Insider said. The publication verified several records by matching known Facebook users’ phone numbers with the IDs listed, and confirmed other records by testing email addresses from the data set in Facebook’s password reset feature, which can be used to partially reveal a user’s phone number.


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