Would Ben Graham Even Think About Investing in Meta Platforms (META)?

Meta Platforms does not have the profile of a defensive investment based on the requirements of Ben Graham. The Software firm may nonetheless be of interest to more risk-oriented investors who have a solid thesis on the company's future growth. At Market Inference, we remain agnostic as to such further developments, and prefer to use a company's past track record as the bellwether for future potential gains.

Meta Platforms Is Probably Overvalued

Graham devised the below equation to give investors a quick way of determining whether a stock is trading at a fair multiple of its earnings and its assets:

√(22.5 * 6 year average earnings per share (8.64) * 6 year average book value per share (51.591) = $94.83

After an impressive 77.0% performance over the 12 months, Meta Platforms is now trading well over its price because its Graham number is 202.4% above today's share price of $286.75. Even though the stock does not trade at an attractive multiple, it might still meet some of the other criteria for quality stocks that Graham listed in Chapter 14 of The Intelligent Investor.

Positive Retained Earnings From 2011 To 2022, No Dividend Record, and Eps Growth In Excess Of Graham'S Requirements

Ben Graham wrote that an investment in a company with a record of positive retained earnings could contribute significantly to the margin of safety. Meta Platforms had positive retained earnings from 2011 to 2022 with an average of $32.3 Billion over this period.

Another one of Graham's requirements is for a 30% or more cumulative growth rate of the company's earnings per share over the last ten years.To determine Meta Platforms's EPS growth over time, we will average out its EPS for 2010, 2011, and 2012, which were $0.28, $0.46, and $0.01 respectively. This gives us an average of $0.25 for the period of 2010 to 2012. Next, we compare this value with the average EPS reported in 2020, 2021, and 2022, which were $10.09, $13.77, and $8.59, for an average of $10.82. Now we see that Meta Platforms's EPS growth was 4228.0% during this period, which satisfies Ben Graham's requirement.

We have no record of Meta Platforms offering a regular dividend.

Meta Platforms’s Balance Sheet Meets Graham’s Criteria

It was also essential to Graham that the company’s current assets outweigh its current liabilities, and that its long term debt be inferior to the sum of its net current assets (current assets minus total liabilities). This is the aspect of the analysis that most companies fail, yet Meta Platforms passes comfortably, with an average current ratio of 2.2, and average debt to net current asset ratio of -21.3.


According to Graham's analysis, Meta Platforms is likely a company of average quality, which does not offer a significant enough margin of safety for a risk averse investor.

2018-02-01 2019-01-31 2020-01-30 2021-01-28 2022-02-03 2023-02-02
Revenue (MM) $40,653 $55,838 $70,697 $85,965 $117,929 $116,609
Gross Margins 87.0% 83.0% 82.0% 81.0% 81.0% 78.0%
Operating Margins 50% 45% 34% 38% 40% 25%
Net Margins 39.0% 40.0% 26.0% 34.0% 33.0% 20.0%
Net Income (MM) $15,934 $22,112 $18,485 $29,146 $39,370 $23,200
Earnings Per Share $5.39 $7.57 $6.43 $10.09 $13.77 $8.59
EPS Growth n/a 40.45% -15.06% 56.92% 36.47% -37.62%
Diluted Shares (MM) 2,956 2,921 2,876 2,888 2,859 2,702
Free Cash Flow (MM) $30,949 $43,189 $51,416 $53,862 $76,250 $81,661
Capital Expenditures (MM) -$6,733 -$13,915 -$15,102 -$15,115 -$18,567 -$31,186
Net Current Assets (MM) n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a -$465
Long Term Debt (MM) n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a $9,923
The above analysis is intended for educational purposes only and was performed on the basis of publicly available data. It is not to be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. Any buy, sell, or other recommendations mentioned in the article are direct quotations of consensus recommendations from the analysts covering the stock, and do not represent the opinions of Market Inference or its writers. Past performance, accounting data, and inferences about market position and corporate valuation are not reliable indicators of future price movements. Market Inference does not provide financial advice. Investors should conduct their own review and analysis of any company of interest before making an investment decision.