NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Facebook (FB) are down by 1.24% to $80.36 in early afternoon trading on Friday, following reports that Belgian regulators have accused the social media company of "trampling" over European privacy laws by tracking people online without their consent and avoiding questions from national regulators.
Belgian watchdog the Privacy Protection Commission (CPBL) is working with its German, French, Spanish, and Dutch counterparts and is urging Internet users to install privacy software in order to protect themselves from Facebook's tracking systems even if they don't have a Facebook account, Reuters reports.
The Belgian regulator does not have the authority to issue fines Reuters said, adding that its show of strength highlights European regulators' desire to ensure U.S. tech companies adhere to European laws.
"Facebook tramples on European and Belgian privacy laws," the Commission said, Reuters noted. The Commission has accused Facebook of refusing to recognize Belgian and other European Union national jurisdictions. Facebook is insisting it is only subject to the law in Ireland.
"Facebook is already regulated in Europe and complies with European data protection law, so the applicability of the CBPL's efforts are unclear," a Facebook spokesperson told Reuters.
Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates FACEBOOK INC as a Hold with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings 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 expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including unimpressive growth in net income, disappointing return on equity and premium valuation."
Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:
- The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 5.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 41.6%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
- FB's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.01 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Along with this, the company maintains a quick ratio of 7.97, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.
- Net operating cash flow has increased to $1,700.00 million or 32.29% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, FACEBOOK INC's average is still marginally south of the industry average growth rate of 41.59%.
- The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness in the organization. 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