The bears -- including lots of analysts who were bullish going into the quarter and subsequently downgraded the stock Thursday morning -- are seizing on how the company is spending like a drunken sailor and may not have all that much to show for it. These investors want results now. They don't want to hear Mark Zuckerberg say, "We aren't operating to maximize our profit this year. We're doing what we think will build the best service and business over the long term."
That's the kiss of death for all of the upside-surprise folks out there, the ones who figured Facebook had hit the magic formula for mobile and would show an explosive revenue and profit number. They aren't satisfied with the 17 cents vs. the 15 cents earnings-per-share number. They needed something like 20 cents to 25 cents in order to stay in the stock, or cover their shorts, or upgrade from buy to super de-duper buy.
It's ironic that the bulls look at the same exact statement from Zuckerberg and love what they see. Put simply, they see the next Amazon (AMZN). They see a company with such a huge growth path that the smartest thing the company can do is to spend as much as possible, thus getting advertisers to spend fortunes trying to reach their targets among the more than 1 billion users of this product.
The bulls are thinking not about earnings this year, which they don't care about in the least, but to the outyears -- say, 2015 -- when the spending will begin to pay off. They are patient, as they had been with Amazon, which became one of the great performers of all time simply because its visionary founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, never wavered in having a long-term vision. In fact, these bulls would fear for Facebook if it weren't investing. That would have meant the hyper-growth phase is already over, and they would have been stuck with another Intel (INTC) or Microsoft (MSFT) -- played-out stocks that just generate a lot of cash but muster little growth.