Facebook's (FB) Most Important Events of 2014

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- April is just around the corner, but Facebook (FB) has already had an active 2014. A mere 12 weeks into the year, the social network has made claims for not one, but three companies, experimented around with advertising, and had shares explode on sales growth.

Here's TheStreet's very, very premature retrospective on Facebook's year so far.

Facebook to Acquire Oculus VR: March 25

Facebook splashed $2 billion on its intent to buy Oculus VR, developer of virtual reality gaming headset Oculus Rift. As part of the agreement, Oculus will receive $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook stock, plus be eligible for up to $300 million in performance-based bonuses.

Exactly what Facebook intends to do with Oculus is unknown, but in a statement CEO Mark Zuckerberg lauds gaming as the 'platform of tomorrow' and says the company can "change the way we work, play and communicate."

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.

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Facebook Launches Premium Video Ads: March 13

Facebook begins testing Premium Video Ads in its users' newsfeeds. Each 15-second video ad will play automatically without sound. If an advertisement is clicked on, the video will expand to fullscreen and sound will begin to play.

"We'll roll out Premium Video Ads slowly and monitor how people interact with them. This limited introduction allows us to concentrate our efforts on a smaller number of advertisers with high-quality campaigns to create the best possible experience on Facebook," the company said in a blog post.

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STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

Facebook to Acquire WhatsApp: February 19

Facebook reaches a definitive agreement to purchase mobile messaging company WhatsApp for an astounding $19 billion. The deal includes $4 billion in cash and $12 billion worth of Facebook shares, plus an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units vested over the four years from the transaction's close.

At the time of the announcement, WhatsApp has more than 450 million people using the service each month, 70% of which are active on any given day.

The deal has not officially closed yet, though the two companies hope to do so soon.

Facebook Celebrates Its 10th Birthday: Feb 4

Facebook officially turns 10 years old and celebrates by launching 'A Look Back,' which allows users to create a personalized movie or photo album of the biggest moments they've shared on the social site.

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Facebook Launches Paper: January 30

Facebook launches its reading app Paper, a customizable offering which allows users to browse and repost articles and Facebook to share with friends.

"Your Paper is made of stories and themed sections, so you can follow your favorite interests," the company writes in a statement. "You can customize Paper with a choice of more than a dozen other sections about various themes and topics -- from photography and sports to food, science and design. Each section includes a rich mix of content from emerging voices and well-known publications."

The app is the first product from Facebook Creative Labs, a subdivision of Facebook which crafts new apps for connecting and sharing with users' online networks.

Must Read: Warren Buffett's 10 Favorite Stocks

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

Facebook Reports Fourth Quarter and Fiscal 2013: January 29

Facebook trounces expectations in its year-ending quarter. For the three months ended Dec. 31, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company records net income of 31 cents a share and revenue of $2.59 billion, a 63% year-on-year increase. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected profits of 27 cents a share and $2.35 billion in sales.

Advertising revenue rises 76% year-over-year to $2.34 bllion, led by mobile, where revenue jumped to more than half of total ad sales compared to 23% in the year-ago quarter.

In the session following the results, Facebook shares soar 14.1%.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

Facebook Rolls Out Third-Party Mobile Apps: January 22

Facebook begins rolling out a new way for developers to monetize mobile apps. In a blog post, the company said it will begin testing Facebook ads in third-party mobile apps.

"In this test, we'll be extending Facebook's rich targeting to improve the relevancy of the ads people see, provide even greater reach for Facebook advertisers, and help developers better monetize their apps," said Facebook's Sriram Krishnan on the company's website.

Unlike tests in the past, Facebook says this experiment will be similar to a mobile ad network with the company working directly with a small number of advertisers and publishers, instead of an external ad-serving platform.

Must Read: Warren Buffett's 10 Favorite Stocks

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

Facebook Acquires Branch Media: January 13

Facebook purchases Brand Media, a link-sharing service, for an undisclosed amount.

Branch CEO Josh Miller writes on Facebook that the company will continue their mission but "at Facebook scale."

"Although the products we build will be reminiscent of Branch and Potluck [Branch's sister service], those services will live on outside of Facebook," he writes.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

TheStreet Ratings team rates FACEBOOK INC as a Hold with a ratings score of C. The team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate FACEBOOK INC (FB) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed -- some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and impressive record of earnings per share growth. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the company's return on equity has been disappointing."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • FB's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 16.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 63.1%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • Although FB's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.03 is very low, it is currently higher than that of the industry average. Along with this, the company maintains a quick ratio of 11.46, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 566.66% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 158.97% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Setting our sights on the months ahead, however, we feel that the stock's sharp appreciation over the last year has driven it to a price level which is now relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. The implication is that its reduced upside potential is not good enough to warrant further investment at this time.
  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. When compared to other companies in the Internet Software & Services industry and the overall market, FACEBOOK INC's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: FB Ratings Report

Must Read: Warren Buffett's 10 Favorite Stocks

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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