NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- On many levels, I'm starting to feel sorry for social media giant Facebook (FB) - Get Report. Not the "Aw, you poor thing..." type of sorry that my mom use to pity me with. I mean, how dare I try to empathize with a profitable corporation that is worth over $40 billion in an environment where many consumers are still trying to make ends meet managing their household budgets? I get that.
However, in the case of Facebook, it is clear that the company is now suffering from two things. First, Facebook is grossly misunderstood -- remarkably, by both its supporters and its critics.
Secondly, the company is being punished for committing one of the most heinous crimes on Wall Street -- not meeting expectations. But that's not necessarily its fault either. It's like being mad at nature because it started raining as you placed your golf clubs in your car. That's what weather forecasts are for.
I don't want to come across as a Facebook apologist. I will concede that I have come to the company's defense quite a few times, but it's because I think Facebook is now being loathed for reasons that make very little sense and grossly unfair. Granted the stock has not performed as well as everyone expected, however the idea that somehow it is because its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg is too young and wears a hoodie is beyond idiotic.
Ask yourself this, was he not too young prior to the IPO when underwriters valued the company at over $100 billion and analysts were wondering if it is yet too low? Were hoodies not fashionable when, on the company's first day of trading, the stock shot up to $45 after opening at $38? The negativity directed at Facebook is the typical finger-pointing; everyone wants to blame everyone else except themselves.
Wall Street is childish. It's created this mess, now it wants nothing to do with it except to try to distance itself from the company by raising concerns about valuation and the company's model. Facebook is not
nor is it
. In fact,
I warned investors of this well ahead of its IPO
But Facebook is not dead either -- let's not get ahead of ourselves. I think we are quick to forget that the company has only had one quarter as a public issue.
Wall Street knew what Facebook was/is prior to going public. Its business model wasn't being questioned then. Today, it is said that the company is struggling due to its inability to monetize mobile. But let's not forget the so-called "death of the PC" was being rumored for over two years suggesting that iPhones and Android mobile devices were taking over.
Sales from Apple, Google as well as the declining PC revenues from
supported that theory. Yet, Wall Street failed in its due diligence to not press this issue -- even though Facebook did.
What happened was that investors decided to make up their own minds as to how to value Facebook despite any signs of weakness it might have warned about. Today, with the stock trading over 50% below its IPO high of $45, investors are ready to punish Facebook instead to striving to understand the obvious lesson.
Facebook was far from a mature company. As stated earlier, it is not on the level of a company such as
where it could have followed the typical
"Under-promise to over-deliver"
strategy. Perhaps, that's a sign of Zuckerberg's "youth." But when has that ever stopped the due diligence process?
Facebook's challenge is to prove that it can monetize its 955 million users. Better yet, it needs to demonstrate that it has a mobile strategy that will eventually compel advertisers to believe it can offer immediate returns to businesses from the standpoint of targeted advertising. To that end,
Research in Motion
is what it needs.
In the meantime, it will continue to battle the lack of understanding while averting threats from the likes of Google. It's a good thing that it has Apple as well as Microsoft on its side -- both Google enemies.
But no enemy is worse than Wall Street when it comes to overblown expectations. I think this is the lesson the company needs to learn and it can demonstrate whether or not it has learned it when it issues its next guidance.
At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL and held no position in any of the stocks mentioned
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Richard Saintvilus is a private investor with an information technology and engineering background and has been investing and trading for over 15 years. He employs conservative strategies in assessing equities and appraising value while minimizing downside risk. His decisions are based in part on management, growth prospects, return on equity and price-to-earnings as well as macroeconomic factors. He is an investor who seeks opportunities whether on the long or short side and believes in changing positions as information changes.