FB.MX - Facebook, Inc.

Mexico - Mexico Delayed Price. Currency in MXN
-2.63 (-0.07%)
At close: 2:51PM CST
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Previous Close3,744.63
Bid3,699.00 x 300
Ask3,749.48 x 2846800
Day's Range3,718.00 - 3,744.63
52 Week Range2,464.00 - 3,966.00
Avg. Volume4,917
Market Cap10.662T
Beta (3Y Monthly)1.06
PE Ratio (TTM)598.24
EPS (TTM)6.26
Earnings DateN/A
Forward Dividend & YieldN/A (N/A)
Ex-Dividend DateN/A
1y Target EstN/A
  • New survey shows 50% of millennials trust social media influencers for brand advice
    Yahoo Finance

    New survey shows 50% of millennials trust social media influencers for brand advice

    The influencer trend isn’t going away anytime soon.

  • What do “billionaire tears” taste like?

    What do “billionaire tears” taste like?

    The wealthiest Americans are crying about Elizabeth Warren's tax proposals. Her campaign is selling mugs of "billionaire tears."

  • 5 Mega Cap Stocks Hedge Funds Are Crazy About
    Insider Monkey

    5 Mega Cap Stocks Hedge Funds Are Crazy About

    One of the best tools for ordinary investors who are on the hunt for new ideas is 13F filings. Hedge funds hire some of the smartest Ivy League graduates as their analysts, have access to industry insiders whom they "consult" with, unconventional data sources that cost tens of thousands of dollars, years of experience and […]

  • Bloomberg

    Real News: Hardly Anybody Shares Fake News

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Some people are fuming at Facebook for allowing unfiltered political ads, while others are fuming at Twitter for banning them. There’s lots of confusion and speculation, but what we know is that these social media companies have fundamentally changed how people exchange information. What we need to figure out is whether they also change how people spread disinformation — and if so, how to fix it. It's a question researchers are actively investigating.After “fake news” became the catchphrase of the 2016 election, experts in psychology, political science, computer science and networks stepped up research on disinformation, learning in more detail how it travels through social media and why some things stick in people’s heads.There’s a good reason not to ban political ads on social media: People in democratic societies should be able to see and hear from candidates directly, not just through interview and debate formats. Social media ads are relatively cheap, so less well-funded candidates can still make themselves heard. The fear is that politicians might lie, mislead and manipulate on social media in ways that were impossible in the days of television and newsprint.Some see a particular threat in the way Facebook allows advertisers to precisely target ads based on personal data. “Facebook profits partly by amplifying lies and selling dangerous targeting tools that allow political operatives to engage in a new level of information warfare,” writes former Facebook insider Yaël Eisenstat in the Washington Post.How dangerous is this information warfare? Experiments show that people can be misled easily and that wrong ideas tend to stick. USC psychologist Norbert Schwarz says people tend to believe messages for many reasons that have nothing to do with credibility. People are more likely to believe messages when they’re presented simply, in an easy-to-read font or spoken without an accent, and repeated often. People are also more easily influenced by messages they think their friends also believe.Stephan Lewandowsky, a psychologist at the University of Bristol, says the extremely fine-grained targeting abilities of social media might interfere with a free marketplace of ideas. Rather than making claims in ads that anyone is free to see, politicians might tailor messages to individual social media users. The propaganda might never even be seen by fact-checkers or opponents who might challenge it. “My main concern is that we’re replacing public debate with manipulation,” he says.There is still hope for democracy, however. There’s little evidence that targeted ads have the power to to change minds or votes, says Harvard law professor Yochai Benkler, co-author of the book “Network Propaganda.” Belief in targeted ads in general is more faith-based than evidence-based, he says. Advertisers assume the targeting causes people to buy things — though this is far from proven.In 2018, there was outrage when it came out that the company Cambridge Analytica claimed it could use the seemingly superficial tastes of consumers to delve deep into their psyches, gain personality information that even their friends didn’t know, and, in theory, use it to manipulate their voting behavior. But in researching a 2018 column on the phenomenon, I learned that the evidence is thin to nonexistent that Cambridge Analytica was able to glean meaningful information or manipulate voting behavior.Dr. Benkler says if he had access to enough Facebook data, he and other researchers could find out who saw which ads, and infer from other information if and how people voted. But it probably isn’t in Facebook’s interest to give out that kind of information. It might reveal that Facebook ads are suppressing voting, or that the ads don’t matter. Either way, it could look bad for the company.Dr. Benkler points to a recent paper in the journal Marketing Science, which shows it’s not clear whether an ad causes people to buy a particular product, or whether the people who are targeted are already more likely to buy. Other research papers report on the limited power of fake news on Facebook and Twitter. For example, one study  that looked at Twitter activity during the 2016 election concluded that 80% of fake news was shared by just 0.1% of users, making it a fringe activity.People tend to focus on new threats, Benkler says, when there are known masters of manipulation out there. The ads, fake news, and other so-called content on social media have been getting a lot of attention, but their impact still pales in comparison to that of old-fashioned platforms like cable news and radio. In research reported in his book, he and his co-authors trace stories using of certain words or phrases — like the child sex ring rumor or the conspiracy theories surrounding the Seth Rich murder — from their origins on small-scale blogs and fringe publications to Fox News and conservative talk radio, where they blew up.It’s true that there’s still a lot we don’t know about social media. But instead of giving Facebook more power — by encouraging it to police ads for misleading content — we should make rules to force the company to reveal its targeting practices.If someone sees a Trump ad because she went to church and stopped at the liquor store on the way home, she has the right to know it, says Benkler. And the more information Facebook and others provide, the better scientists can understand how much social media is shaping the free marketplace of ideas, and whether we should be focused on other, more substantial threats to democracy.To contact the author of this story: Faye Flam at fflam1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Sarah Green Carmichael at sgreencarmic@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Faye Flam is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. She has written for the Economist, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Psychology Today, Science and other publications. She has a degree in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Financial Times

    Twitter and targeting

    To get you up to speed: Facebook, casting itself as a bastion of free speech, last month said it would let political advertising remain on the platform unchecked. from numerous Democrats, who warned that bad politicians would abuse the system while Facebook continued to cash their cheques. On Friday, the group announced some carve-outs to the policy — namely that it would continue to allow campaign groups to advertise on political issues, while businesses can do so as long as the adverts are not connected with specific legislation or elections.

  • Factbox: How social media sites handle political ads

    Factbox: How social media sites handle political ads

    In the United States, the Communications Act prevents broadcast stations from rejecting or censoring ads from candidates for federal office once they have accepted advertising for that political race, although this does not apply to cable networks like CNN, or to social media sites, where leading presidential candidates are spending millions to target voters in the run-up to the November 2020 election. Facebook exempts politicians from its third-party fact-checking program, allowing them to run ads with false claims.

  • Twitter’s Political Ad Ban Will Exempt Some ‘Issue’ Ads

    Twitter’s Political Ad Ban Will Exempt Some ‘Issue’ Ads

    (Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. is making some exceptions to its recent ban on all political advertising, announcing Friday that it will allow “cause-based” ads for some economic, environmental or social issues.There will still be certain restrictions for those promotions, also known as issue ads. Groups that promote content about a cause -- climate change, for example -- can’t link to a specific candidate’s landing page, promote the ad on behalf of a candidate or mention a particular piece of legislation. Such ads also won’t be able to target people using specific identifiers, like email addresses or zip codes.Candidates, elected officials and political parties will be banned from buying any ads at all, including ones about issues or causes.The point, Twitter said, is to allow advertisers to encourage discussion around certain subjects, but not directly influence elections.“While advertising should not be used to drive political, legislative or regulatory outcomes,” Twitter General Counsel Vijaya Gadde said on a conference call with reporters, the company believes “that there is certain cause-based advertising that can facilitate public conversations about important topics.”Twitter’s policy comes amid a presidential campaign in full swing less than a year before the election and runs counter to rules Facebook Inc. has established for its social network. Facebook does allow political advertising but doesn’t fact-check those ads the way it does with non-political ads. That policy has generated intense pushback from some candidates, including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.Twitter won’t fact-check cause-based ads either. “One of the benefits of Twitter being a primarily public platform is that you can absolutely be called [out] and held accountable for what you say,” explained Del Harvey, Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety. Advertisers will still need to follow the company’s existing ad guidelines, which prohibit things like hateful or sexual content.Twitter unveiled its new political ad rules to better prepare advertisers and the media before it plans to ban all political ads on Nov. 22. Still, the policy is complicated and bound to draw criticism. It could be challenging, for example, to determine when an advertiser crosses the line from promoting a topic for the sake of discussion, to pushing for some kind of political or regulatory outcome. “We tried to make this policy as clear and straightforward as possible, but there are going to be some areas that are going to be more subjective,” Harvey said.“When we find ourselves in those types of situations, we’ll be sure to be transparent about how and why a decision was made,” Gadde said. “But I want to be open that we’re also prepared that we’re going to make some mistakes.”Harvey said Twitter doesn’t expect this political ad ban will impact business in the short term, saying the company is “not anticipating any change to Q4 guidance.” Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal said last month that Twitter made just $3 million in political advertising revenue around the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.To contact the reporter on this story: Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at kwagner71@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • These 3 ‘Strong Buy’ Giants Still Have Room for Growth, Say Analysts

    These 3 ‘Strong Buy’ Giants Still Have Room for Growth, Say Analysts

    Sometimes, the big guys get the press for a reason. The six largest publicly traded companies have a combined market cap of more than $5 trillion – roughly equivalent to the gross domestic product of the Japan, the world’s third-largest economy. In some respects, the stock market is little more than a performance reflection of its very largest members.A look at TipRanks’ Stock Screener quickly reveals the stocks we are talking about, and the names are no surprise. Apple and Microsoft are at the top, valued at over $1 trillion each. We’ll be looking at several of their peers –the news-makers in the tech industry that draw investors in. They’ve reached this peak for similar reasons: positive disruption of established markets, proven success generating revenues, enormous returns for investors. And even at their scale, Wall Street still sees room for them to grow. Let’s dive in.Amazon (AMZN)In the recent Q3 report, Amazon reported sharp earnings losses despite a modest gain in revenues. Total sales rose 24% to $70 billion, against a forecast of $68.8 billion, while EPS missed the estimates, coming in at $4.23 versus the $4.62 predicted. The EPS miss comes after Amazon has spent $1.6 billion over the past two quarters on expansions of the one-day delivery program. In a move that is sure to make investors a bit nervous, the company also announced that capital expenditures will increase in Q4, to $1.5 billion, due to warehouse and product line expansions.It’s a testament to Amazon’s underlying strength that management could post a loss due to high spending – and then announce plans for even higher spending. This is a company with a firm business model and plenty of revenue to cover the expansion plans. But more important, from an investor’s perspective, the capital expenditures are money well spent. Expanding and improving one-day delivery, expanding warehouses, and improving product lines will all positively impact the bottom line once they are fully implemented.So, even though AMZN shares have underperformed the markets in 2019, gaining 18% against the broader S&P’s 23% increase, the stock still shows the potential that has made Jeff Bezos the richest man alive.Setting out the bullish case clearly is Deutsche Bank’s Lloyd Walmsley, who writes, “We would be buyers of Amazon shares post disappointing 4Q guidance, which reflects the typical seasonal step-down in growth… While operating income guidance was meaningfully below consensus, and buyside expectations, we think the clear benefits of 1-day Prime visible in 3Q results give investors comfort the investment is worth it, particularly given the view that Amazon will eventually ring out efficiencies in its delivery and the AWS and advertising profit juggernauts continue along at healthy growth rates…” Walmsley’s $2,150 price target implies a healthy upside of 21% for AMZN. (To watch Walmsley's track record, click here)Doug Anmuth, 5-star analyst from JPMorgan, is also upbeat about Amazon’s future. Giving the stock a $2,200 price target, he says, “We believe Amazon’s flexibility in pushing first-party vs. third-party inventory and its Prime offering both serve as major advantages in its retail business, and its multi-year head start in the cloud has led to a ~60% US market share. Amazon is also starting to show more profit, with its high-growing AWS and Advertising revenue streams also its most profitable.” His price target indicates confidence in a 24% upside potential for Amazon.All in all, the e-commerce king is without question a Wall Street favorite, considering TipRanks analytics indicate AMZN as a Strong Buy. Out of 35 analysts polled in the last 3 months, all 35 are bullish on the stock. With a return potential of nearly 25%, the stock's consensus target price stands at $2,182.36. (See Amazon's price targets and analyst ratings on TipRanks).Alibaba (BABA)Shifting our gaze to China, we find Amazon’s major international competitor. Alibaba is China’s largest retail website, and while China’s government policy of restricting international internet access means that Western observers are less familiar with it, it’s important not to lose sight of some basic facts.BABA’s growth has been impressive. The stock’s 36% year-to-date gains are double those of Amazon, and BABA has gained 107% in the last three years. BABA reported fiscal Q2 2020 earnings earlier this month, and the $1.83 EPS clobbered the forecast of $1.55. Revenues, at $16.7 billion, showed a 40% gain from the year-ago quarter. The company’s Core Commerce segment was up 40% for the period; its smallest segment, Cloud Computing, gained a hefty 64%. Overall, BABA’s growth makes it a viable competitor for Amazon – but it’s important to remember that Amazon has overhead costs that Alibaba lacks.On a further positive point for Alibaba, the company hit record numbers on the November 11 Singles Day sales, the biggest annual online shopping event in China. The first minute and eight seconds of the shopping day saw Alibaba pull in $1 billion, and the company hit $12 billion by the end of the first hour. Total sales for the day, $38 billion, were, for the third year in a row, a new record.UBS analyst Jerry Liu sees a happy future for Alibaba, which he describes in his recent report on the stock: “We believe the company can maintain high-30% revenue growth due to strong user engagement… with new drivers (live streaming, second hand goods, feed ads) potentially accelerating China Commerce revenue growth next year. We also believe… investors have gotten too negative on Alibaba relative to competitors.” Liu recommends buying BABA stock now, and his $210 price target implies a 14% upside. (To watch Liu's track record, click here)Writing from Deutsche Bank, analyst Eileen Deng describes the path forward for Alibaba: “Alibaba's Sep Q results featured a nice beat on revenue... We sensed a great effort moving towards a disciplined investment strategy... There will be more focus on user retention, cross-selling, and then reinvestment out of discretionary profit. By realizing stronger synergies, we become more confident for an EBITDA profit growth in the next few quarters.” Deng set a $223 price target, suggesting that BABA has room for 19% growth.Like Amazon, Wall Street’s analysts are unanimous on BABA. The Strong Buy consensus rating is based on 17 "buys" set in recent weeks, while the $229 average price target indicates a 24% upside from the current trading price of $185. (Find out how the Street’s average price target for Alibaba breaks down)Facebook (FB)Facebook’s reputational problems in the area of consumer data protection and privacy are well known, and founder Mark Zuckerberg’s attempts over the past two years to address the issue brought him several rounds of merciless mockery – ironically, on the very social media networks he had pioneered. Earlier this year, Facebook suffered an earnings hit when the company had to set aside $5 billion in cash to cover a record-setting FCC fine related to the problems with data privacy.But with a market cap of $555 billion, annual revenues exceeding $55 billion, and net income of $22 billion, Facebook had the resources to pay that fine, swallow the immediate loss, and move forward. Despite the mockery heaped on Zuckerberg, the company has made visible efforts to improve data security – although the company still faces difficulties relating to perceptions of political censorship. Zuckerberg has said that FB will simply allow anyone to post any political idea – but in today’s highly charged socio-political environment, it’s probably not possible for him to please everyone.Facebook’s shares have reacted well to the company’s efforts at reputation management and damage control. The tech giant suffered first and worst in the 2H18 downturn, losing 42% of its value before bottoming out in December. Since then, the stock has shown a solid recovery, climbing 55% from its lowest point. While it’s not back at peak values yet, and has shown high volatility since May, FB is up 44% year-to-date.A solid Q3 report underscored the company’s gains. Daily active users, a key metric, climbed to 1.62 billion – and yes, that’s billion; Facebook reaches 22% of the world’s population every day through its family of apps. Revenues and EPS, at $17.65 billion and $2.12 respectively, both beat the forecasts.Youssef Squali, 5-star analyst with SunTrust Robinson, lays it out in his recent report on FB shares: “We remain bullish on FB after another solid quarter, beating on all financial/ user metrics amidst intense regulatory/media scrutiny… We believe Facebook has become the foundation of the social web… Facebook is still in its early growth phase, in our view, and given its enormous reach and time spent statistics, coupled with relevance, targeting, and social context, we believe the company will capture a disproportionately high percentage of brand ad dollars over the next 2-3 years.” Squali’s price target of $250 implies an upside of 31%. (To watch Squali's track record, click here)Facebook’s Strong Buy consensus rating is not unanimous, but it is based on 27 "buy" ratings set in recent weeks. The 3 "holds" and 1 "sell" are reminders of the company’s recent problems, but don’t detract from optimistic the outlook. Shares are priced at $195, and the average price target of $235 is well above the July 2018 peak of $235. Overall, FB has a 21% upside potential. (Discover how the overall stock-price forcecast for Facebook breaks down here)

  • Is a Cryptocurrency Derivatives Boom On Its Way?
    Insider Monkey

    Is a Cryptocurrency Derivatives Boom On Its Way?

    While the crypto market continues to stall, some analysts are betting on institutions to carry the next bull cycle, opposed to casual traders who snowballed the BTC price in 2017. Indeed, the Wild West days of crypto, accompanied by thousands of cash-grabbing, fraudulent ICOs seem to be coming to a close — compliance is the […]

  • Hedge Funds Bought Netflix, Facebook in Rough Third Quarter

    Hedge Funds Bought Netflix, Facebook in Rough Third Quarter

    (Bloomberg) -- U.S. hedge funds bought shares of Facebook Inc. and Netflix Inc. despite steep declines in the technology darlings during a volatile third quarter.Chase Coleman and David Tepper were among the money managers who increased their Facebook holdings during the three-month stretch that saw the social-media giant fall nearly 8%. Netflix was favored by firms including Lee Ainslie’s Maverick Capital Ltd. and Dan Sundheim’s D1 Capital Partners despite a 27% drop in the three months ending Sept. 30.Hedge fund managers, who have long adored FAANG stocks, had to navigate a tumultuous period. While Amazon.com Inc. also fell, down 8%, Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Apple Inc. both rose more than 13%. At the same time, the S&P 500 index gained 1.2% amid an escalation in the U.S.-China trade war and dovish moves by central bankers.Here are some other notable moves:Harvard University’s endowment added 2 million Facebook shares, bringing the value of its position to roughly $400 million on Sept. 30, and making the company its biggest single U.S. equity holding.Stan Druckenmiller offloaded almost his entire stake in Uber Technologies Inc., selling 2.5 million shares. His Duquesne Family Office took a stake in Shopify Inc.Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. announced new common-equity stakes in Occidental Petroleum Corp., which is on top of a preferred stake that was previously disclosed. It also purchased shares of home furnishings company RH, which sent the stock surging the day after the filing. RH rose as much as 8.7%. the most since June, in early trading on Friday. Berkshire trimmed some of its largest stock bets, including Apple, Wells Fargo & Co. and Phillips 66.Viking Global Investors ditched its $1.2 billion stake in UnitedHealth Group Inc. as health-care stocks were hit by politics both in Washington and on the campaign trial.Maverick sold 690,000 shares of managed-care company Humana Inc., which had been the fund’s top U.S. equity position in the second quarter. (It now sits at No. 9).Microsoft Corp. was one of the less popular stocks for the second quarter in a row. Tiger cubs Viking, Coatue Management and Maverick all decreased their holdings in the tech giant as did Duquesne. But the software giant was up more than 3% during that period and has been a top performer this year -- shares have gained almost 46%.(Adds gain in RH shares in Buffett section.)\--With assistance from Katherine Chiglinsky, Emma Vickers, Vincent Bielski, Scott Deveau and Michael McDonald.To contact the reporters on this story: Katia Porzecanski in New York at kporzecansk1@bloomberg.net;Hema Parmar in New York at hparmar6@bloomberg.net;Melissa Karsh in New York at mkarsh@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sam Mamudi at smamudi@bloomberg.net, Alan MirabellaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • The Race Towards a Blockchain Future

    The Race Towards a Blockchain Future

    In this week's cryptocurrency news, Facebook's Libra and China's newfound blockchain and crypto acceptance push other nations to react or potentially be left behind.

  • This Cryptocurrency Could Be The Next Social Networking King
    Investor's Business Daily

    This Cryptocurrency Could Be The Next Social Networking King

    The race is on to issue stablecoin, a type of cryptocurrency that could dictate who will control a key enabler of global trade and the economy.

  • Jeremy Corbyn Wants to Nationalize the Internet

    Jeremy Corbyn Wants to Nationalize the Internet

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is behind in the polls for the U.K. election so it’s unsurprising that he’s chucking out more giveaways to voters. The policy to nationalize BT Group Plc’s fixed-telecoms networks business and provide free fiber broadband to every British household is a humdinger nonetheless.Of course, the chances of this becoming reality are slim given that Corbyn’s best hope of becoming prime minister is a coalition with more moderate political parties. Yet the idea has stimulated even more debate than Labour’s previous plans to re-nationalize the railways and the energy utilities, so it’s at least worth thinking about. Taking it at face value, the policy would be a huge mistake that would achieve the opposite of its stated aim of accelerating Britain’s sluggish rollout of fiber broadband.First, there’s the cost. A Labour government would add 15 billion pounds ($19 billion) to an existing 5 billion pound broadband spending pot, according to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. Even assuming that would cover the required capital expenditure — a big assumption — it would cost at least the same again to nationalize Openreach, BT’s networks division.McDonnell says the state would pay for the acquisition by giving BT’s shareholders government bonds as compensation. Yet why would investors, especially those outside the U.K. protected by treaties against asset expropriation, exchange an 8.1% annual dividend yield from their BT stock for the less than 1% returns from U.K. gilts? The network spending itself would be funded by an increased tax on the likes of Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. But the G-20 will probably adopt new international tax standards next year to try to curb Big Tech’s avoidance tactics. So a Labour government might not even be able to whomp up these levies without breaching the new guidelines.Then there’s the speed of rolling out the networks. While the U.K. is well behind the pace on high-speed broadband rollout (it’s 10th in the European Union’s 2019 connectivity rankings), a tortured nationalization process isn’t the answer. BT would have no incentive to keep investing during that period.The same’s true for private competitors such as John Malone’s Virgin Media, Vodafone Group Plc and Comcast Corp.’s Sky. Increased competition has at least accelerated the pace of the rollout: The proportion of homes with fiber access has doubled in two years.Infrastructure investors have also been attracted by the returns promised by fiber, prompting a flurry of investment from KKR & Co., Macquarie’s infrastructure fund and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. McDonnell’s comments have certainly caused some consternation. TalkTalk Telecom Group Plc. said it had paused talks to sell a fiber project, for which Goldman-backed CityFibre Ltd. was the lead bidder. Should Labour ever get the chance to offer free broadband to everyone through a state-owned provider, tens of thousands of private sector jobs would be jeopardized. How would other companies be able to compete?And full-fiber broadband might not even really be necessary. The adoption of next-generation 5G mobile networks promises the ability to transmit far more data at far greater speeds. That would make fiber to every home redundant in parts of the country.There are better and more thoughtful ways to get fiber installed sooner: Making it easier to get permits to build the network; permanently reducing business tax rates for new fiber; and making it obligatory for customers to accept fiber upgrades. If McDonnell is willing to hand over 15 billion pounds to BT shareholders to snap up Openreach, why not use the funds to subsidize the rollout directly?To contact the author of this story: Alex Webb at awebb25@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • U.K. Labour Plans to Nationalize BT’s Broadband Unit

    U.K. Labour Plans to Nationalize BT’s Broadband Unit

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Britain’s Labour party pledged to offer all consumers free fiber broadband within a decade by nationalizing phone carrier BT Group Plc’s Openreach unit at a cost of 20 billion pounds ($26 billion).BT shareholders would get newly-issued government bonds in return for their shares, Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, said in a speech in Lancaster, England on Friday. Shares of BT fell as much as 3.7%.It’s the biggest new pledge of the election campaign from Labour, which already has plans to nationalize the postal service, the railways and water and energy utilities. The broadband effort would be financed in part with taxes on multinational companies such as Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. While the proposals may win over some voters, Labour may not be in a position to implement them. It has an average of 29% support in recent polls, trailing the Conservatives at 40%.“A Labour government will make broadband free for everybody,” party leader Jeremy Corbyn said at the campaign event at Lancaster University. “This is core infrastructure for the 21st century. It’s too important to be left to the corporations.”McDonnell said the new broadband pledge would be funded by asking “tech giants like Google and Facebook to pay a bit more” in proportion to their activities in the U.K. “So if a multinational has 10% of its sales, workforce, and operations in the U.K., they’re asked to pay tax on 10% of their global profits,” McDonnell said.While Labour puts the cost of the plan at about 20 billion pounds, BT’s Chief Executive Officer Philip Jansen said the proposal would cost almost five times that amount.BT shares were down 1.6% as of 12:29 p.m. in London, suggesting shareholders aren’t too worried about the nationalization risk. That gives the company a market value of about 19 billion pounds.“These are very very ambitious ideas,” Jansen said Friday in an interview on BBC Radio 4. “The Conservative Party have their own ambitious ideas for full fiber for everybody by 2025.”“How we do it is not straightforward, it needs funding,” Jansen said, putting the cost of such a roll-out over eight years at “not short of 100 billion pounds.”Lower Value?BT has been working to speed up its own full-fiber build and Jansen said the company’s shares have fallen on the recognition that “we’re going to be investing very very heavily.” Shareholders “are nursing massive losses on their investment” in BT if they’d bought it a few years ago, he said.Investors could get burned, as Openreach’s business would likely be undervalued in an expropriation, New Street analyst James Ratzer said in an email, adding that nationalization “rarely works well for shareholders.” Analysts at Jefferies put Openreach’s value at 13.5 billion pounds, flagging annual costs for operations and to service its high pension deficit.Labour’s McDonnell said the party has taken advice from lawyers to ensure its broadband plan fits within European Union state aid rules in case the U.K. is still in the bloc when the plans are carried out.Britain LaggingCorbyn’s plan is meant to solve a connectivity gap: Britain lags far behind other European nations when it comes to full-fiber coverage, which allows for gigabit-per-second download speeds. About 8% of the country is connected -- just under 2.5 million properties, according to a September report by communications regulator Ofcom. That compares with 63% for Spain and 86% for Portugal.As policymakers and regulators have been creating conditions to spur more competition with BT, rivals including Liberty Global Plc’s Virgin Media and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.-backed CityFibre have been jumping in to commit billions of pounds to infrastructure plans.“Those plans risk being shelved overnight,” Matthew Howett, an analyst at Assembly, said in an email. “This is a spectacularly bad take by the Labour Party.”The Labour announcement caused TalkTalk Telecom Group Plc to pause talks to sell a fiber project as the industry seeks clarity.Analysts are skeptical the government could roll out fiber more effectively than private industry and Howett pointed to delays and budget overruns from a state-led effort in Australia.It’s not the first time radical ideas have been proposed for BT’s Openreach unit, a national network of copper wire and fiber-optic cable that communication providers including BT, Comcast Corp.’s Sky and Vodafone Group Plc tap into to provide home internet to customers.BT was forced to legally separate the division from the rest of the company in recent years over concerns about competition, and that it wasn’t investing fast enough to roll out fiber, and some investors have suggested the company should fully spin it out into an independent, listed business to unlock value.‘Fantasy’ PlanNicky Morgan, the Conservative cabinet minister with responsibility for digital services, dismissed Corbyn’s plan in a statement as a “fantasy” that “would cost hardworking taxpayers tens of billions” of pounds.The Conservative Party’s own proposal for full-fiber broadband across the U.K. by 2025 -- eight years ahead of a previous government goal -- has raised eyebrows across the telecom industry, as some executives and analysts expressed skepticism about whether it’s doable, whether there’s consumer demand for the ultrafast internet service and how companies would make money.‘A Disaster’TechUK, the industry’s main trade body, called Labour’s plan “a disaster” for the telecom sector. “Renationalization would immediately halt the investment being driven not just by BT but the growing number of new and innovative companies that compete with BT,” said Chief Executive Officer Julian David.The announcement will provide more fodder for the arguments by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives that a Labour government risks plunging the country into an economic crisis. Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid over the weekend released analysis estimating Labour would raise spending by 1.2 trillion pounds over five years. McDonnell at the time called it “fake news.”McDonnell said Parliament would set the value of Openreach when it’s taken into public ownership and that shareholders would be compensated with government bonds.Under Labour’s plan, the roll-out would begin in areas with the worst broadband access, including rural communities, followed by towns and then by areas that are currently well-served by fast broadband.According to elections expert John Curtice, Corbyn’s chances of forming a majority government are “as close to zero” as it’s possible to get. The election is still hard to predict, and it is possible that Labour could yet win power, either on its own or with the support of smaller parties.(Updates with Corbyn remarks in fourth paragraph, McDonnell in fifth.)\--With assistance from Jennifer Ryan and Kit Rees.To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net;Thomas Seal in London at tseal@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at rpenty@bloomberg.net, ;Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Frank ConnellyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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