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Facebook Rally Vaults It Past $1 Trillion in Record Pace

(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. shares jumped after an antitrust victory helped push its market value above $1 trillion, making the social-media giant the fastest company to reach the milestone.

Facebook shares rose 4.2% on Monday to $355.64, the most in two months, after a judge granted its request to dismiss two complaints filed last year by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general.

The stock has advanced 30% this year amid increased public reliance on Facebook’s apps for staying in touch with friends and businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to steady growth in users and strong demand for digital advertisements.

Almost three years after Apple Inc. became the first publicly traded U.S. company to reach the $1 trillion mark, there are now four other U.S. technology firms that boast 13-digit valuations including Microsoft Corp., Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc. Facebook, which Mark Zuckerberg co-founded in 2004 at Harvard University, is the youngest of them all to reach the milestone, getting to $1 trillion in just 17 years.

The growth has come at a cost. Zuckerberg has been so focused on adding users and revenue -- including by purchasing the competitive apps Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 -- that he chose to ignore some of the downsides of running networks that more than 3.45 billion people contribute content to.

Zuckerberg has testified in front of U.S. Congress multiple times on Facebook’s various missteps. Regulators have charged that during its ascent, Facebook lost control over its users’ data and failed to do enough to throttle the flow of potentially harmful or violent information. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, alongside 46 state attorneys general, sued Facebook in December for anticompetitive behavior, saying the company’s size has resulted in consumer harms including reduced product quality.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said on Monday that the FTC failed to meet the burden for establishing that Facebook has a monopoly in social networking. The agency will be able to refile the complaint within 30 days.

Yet from the perspective of an investor, Facebook is thriving. The company faced doubts in its 2012 initial public offering that it would ever be able to make significant money off mobile-phone users. Ever since it proved that its advertising business would work there, too, it’s consistently found ways to beat expectations for revenue and earnings, and to ensure more people sign on to use its products.

Facebook said in April that revenue in the current quarter will remain steady or accelerate from the first quarter, when sales expanded 48% to $26.2 billion. Of the 58 analysts tracked by Bloomberg that cover Facebook, 49 recommend buying the stock. Six have hold ratings and three are at sell.

(Updates with closing share move)

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