Facebook Falls: Should You Copy Reed Hastings?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Last week, Netflix (NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings purchased $1 million worth of Facebook (FB) stock. At right around the same time, I invested just over $2,000 in FB, upping my share total to a modest 103, a mere fraction of Hastings' 48,000-or-so buy.

It took me a few days to digest the development -- I moved with the big money, independent of the big money. Often, small investors act on what the big money does after the big money does it. Consider how, quarter after quarter, we relay news of the stocks hedge funds bought and sold. Readers can't get enough of it.

At first blush, I became concerned. I knee-jerked and thought of a bungling and bumbling Reed Hastings dressed in Keystone Cops getup running around the office showing off potential Qwikster logos. I thought about how $1 million means next to nothing to a mogul like Hastings.

Then, on Thursday, FB breached $20. To the short-sighted, Hastings, again, looks like a fool.

Collect your thoughts. Realize that it's all relative. Hastings does not want to throw $1 million out the window anymore than I want to part with two grand. Plus, he's on the Facebook board. He probably wines and dines with Mark Zuckerberg. If nothing else, he's a visionary.

Why Did Hastings Buy Facebook Now?

I burned a bridge with Hastings. After well over a year of intense bearishness (and ending up 100% correct in my analysis), the CEO will not return my emails, even though I have morphed into somewhat of a NFLX bull. I didn't even bother asking him for comment on the rationale behind his purchase. But I think I know what it is.

It gets back to the visionary thing. Guys like Hastings properly assess the writing on the wall. They see the future before it takes place. Often, they dictate the future, as Hastings did when he invented DVD-by-mail and pioneered online streaming.

Say what you want about his ability as a CEO, but do not second-guess his eminence as a visionary. He's only a step below Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos in that regard.

Facebook does not issue guidance. It has not updated the public on the progress of its mobile ad sales, other than to say they're going well.

Insert bold reiteration here: Hastings is on Netflix's board. He knows something. He's not concerned over Thursday's noise-induced drop in the stock. Who knows what caused it? Panic selling related to lockup expiration selling or that selling itself (assuming it's taking place). I'm not sure it matters.

What does matter?

Despite the media-generated hysteria, many social media stocks are nicely monetizing the mass migration to mobile, as I pointed out Wednesday on TheStreet. Hastings knows this. He talks to the founders and CEOs in the middle of the transformation.

When you consider its worldwide dominance and incredible scale, you should wonder why investors, particularly long-term ones, would not put Facebook at the head of the mobile monetization line.

While I can't officially speak for Hastings, I think he expects a blowout quarter, which will render Thursday's mini-crash in FB a blip on the short-term radar screen.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

At the time of publication, the author was long FB.

Rocco Pendola is a private investor with nearly 20 years experience in various forms of media, ranging from radio to print. His work has appeared in academic journals as well as dozens of online and offline publications. He uses his broad experience to help inform his coverage of the stock market, primarily in the technology, Internet and new media spaces. He has taken a long-term approach to investing, focusing on dividend-paying stocks, since he opened his first account as a teenager. Pendola, 37, is based in Santa Monica, Calif., where he lives with his wife and child.

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