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Zuckerberg loses $16 billion in record Facebook fall

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the Senate judiciary and commerce committees on Capitol Hill over social media data breach, on April 10, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the Senate judiciary and commerce committees on Capitol Hill over social media data breach, on April 10, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Reuters

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune took an almost $16 billion hit on Thursday, as the social media giant headed for the biggest one-day wipeout in U.S. stock market history, a day after executives forecast years of lower profit margins.

At least 16 brokerages cut their price targets on Facebook after Chief Financial Officer David Wehner startled an otherwise routine call with analysts by saying the company faced a multi-year squeeze on its business margins.

That “bombshell,” as one analyst termed it, played into concerns on Wall Street that Facebook’s model could be under threat after a year that has been dominated by efforts to head off concerns over privacy and its role in global news flow.

Shares fell as much as 19.6 percent to $174.78, a decline that if sustained would wipe about $124 billion off the company’s value — or nearly four times the entire market capitalization of Twitter Inc.

Dismal revenue, which initially pulled the stock down nearly nine percent on Thursday, clearly was not the end for wounded investors.

“Over the next several years, we would anticipate that our operating margins will trend towards the mid-30s on a percentage basis,” Wehner told the results conference call with analysts.

Facebook’s margin fell to 44 percent in the second quarter from 47 percent a year ago as it spent heavily on security and initiatives to convince users the company was protecting their privacy.

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The company also said that revenue growth from emerging markets and the company’s Instagram app, which has been less affected by privacy concerns, would not be enough to repair the damage.

The impact on the rest of the FAANG group of high-flying tech stocks — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet’s Google — was marginal.

Shares in Alphabet were unchanged while those in Apple Inc and Netflix Inc dipped just a third of a percent. Amazon.com Inc fell 2.8 percent ahead of its own results report later on Thursday.

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