The $500 million that Facebook (FB - Get Report) lost in an intellectual property suit that game maker Zenimax brought is a modest sum to the social media giant, which has a nearly $380 billion market cap.
The U.S. District Court in Dallas awarded Zenimax $500 million on Wednesday for technology used by Oculus VR, which is less than the $2 billion the plaintiff originally sought..
"The $500 million is immaterial to the company given its significant [free cash flow] and cash balance," Moody's Investors Service wrote in an email. "It is also tax deductible."
However, the ruling makes already-costly Oculus a bit more expensive. Facebook originally announced that it was paying $2 billion for Oculus in 2014. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in January that Facebook paid another $1 billion in employee retention and other compensation, and could invest $3 billion more in virtual reality over the next five to ten years.
ZeniMax first brought the suit a few months after Facebook announced the purchase, alleging that Oculus executives improperly took code and other intellectual property. ZeniMax later amended the suite to include Facebook as a defendant.
Shares of Facebook dropped Thursday, even though the company easily beat earnings and revenue forecasts.
"We continue to marvel at the incredible growth that Zuckerberg delivers quarter after quarter," wrote Jim Cramer in an Action Alerts PLUS bulletin Thursday. "While we understand that some concerns regarding upcoming investments continue to linger in the background, we believe the company is playing in all the right areas (e.g., social media, machine learning, virtual reality, etc.) in a world that relies increasingly on connectivity, anywhere and any time."
UBS analyst Eric Sheridan suggested that concerns about slower growth and higher expenses are countering the strong results from the fourth quarter. At a valuaton of 13 times 2018 Ebitda, Sheridan suggested, the market "already discounts a healthy level of investor fear/concern" for the declining revenues and cost pressure on operating income.
Oculus is one of Facebook's ambitious growth ventures, along with Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.
By Zuckerberg's own admission, Facebook will have to invest billions more before VR is a real business.
Money keeps flowing into virtual reality and augmented reality. Investment bank Digi-Capital reported Thursday that VR/AR startups raised $2.3 billion venture capitalists and corporations last year, more than triple the take from 2015.
ZeniMax may not be done with Facebook and Oculus.
"We will consider what further steps we need to take to ensure there will be no ongoing use of our misappropriated technology, including by seeking an injunction to restrain Oculus and Facebook from their ongoing use of computer code that the jury found infringed ZeniMax's copyrights," a company statement read.
Facebook did not reply to queries about whether it might appeal the Oculus ruling.