Like Taking Data From A Baby
Great Ones, you know I have no love for Facebook (Nasdaq: FB). It’s my opinion that you’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than Mark Zuckerberg’s social abomination … and that includes 4chan.
It’s also my belief that Facebook is nearing the end of its reign … that is, if the U.S. Congress actually decides to take action. The company has already attracted attention for alleged anti-competitive, monopolistic and speech censorship activities. It’s already paid fines for such activities in the EU and still faces heavy scrutiny there.
The heat is ramping up stateside as well. But a new wrinkle opened up this past week for Facebook — one that’s garnered the bipartisan support of attorneys general from 44 U.S. states and territories.
I don’t have to tell you that getting both parties to agree on something in this divisive political climate is nothing short of a miracle. But Facebook is a miracle worker, apparently.
So … what is it? What topic has Republicans and Democrats linking arms and singing: “Don’t kumbaya Zuckerberg! Don’t kumbaya!?”
Three words: Instagram for children.
Yes, you read that right. Facebook knows that kids lie to participate in social media. “As every parent knows, kids are already online,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We want to improve this situation by delivering experiences that give parents visibility and control over what their kids are doing.”
But instead of working harder to eliminate fraudulent child accounts (and other fake accounts), Facebook has decided that it knows best … once again. Zuck wants to create a platform that gives parents the tools to monitor children’s activity instead of filtering that activity itself.
Pass the buck much, Zuck?
I have a little secret for Facebook and all its defenders … those tools already exist! How do I know?
Because I already use them to protect my kids online. My wireless provider allows me to monitor all activity on my kids’ mobile data. The wireless router in my house allows me to monitor every piece of data that comes and goes from anyone connected to my network.
There’s also a myriad of other apps and tools available for Windows, Android and iOS that accomplish the same goals. If those tools aren’t enough, or if parents aren’t willing to learn how to use them, what makes Zuckerberg and Facebook think anyone will use the ones they provide?
Furthermore, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said that the new Instagram for kids would have “to be compelling enough that it’s not going to give people a reason to lie about their age.”
Here’s a thought: With all those kids in one place, I can think of at least one group of people that would find “Instagram for kids” compelling enough to lie about their age. Think about that one for a hot minute.
Furthermore … a product made by a major corporation that’s compelling to children? When you figure that out, Adam, let Hasbro and Mattel know … I’m sure they’d kill for that info.
But, wait … that’s the plan all along, isn’t it? It’s not about the kids. It’s about data. Sure, Facebook isn’t legally allowed to sell identifiable kids’ data without parental approval.
But you know they’re going to check that permission box by default when your kids sign up. In fact, Facebook is counting on it … nay, it’s banking on it.
Now, I know this is supposed to be an investment newsletter. And Facebook is probably the best social media investment on Wall Street right now. But with increasing government scrutiny and the lawsuits that will inevitably arise from an Instagram for kids … I wouldn’t touch FB with your portfolio right now.
But that’s just like, my opinion … man. Tell me what you think: Is Instagram for kids a good idea? Are you invested in FB?
Drop us a line at GreatStuffToday@BanyanHill.com, and we’ll talk about it more in this Thursday’s Reader Feedback.
Editor’s Note: Listen Up, All You Tax Procrastinators…
Before the May 17 tax extension deadline gets here, you need to see this. My colleague Ted Bauman recently finished a comprehensive guide on how you could slash your taxes … legally!
The Good: Check DDDeez Earnings
Remember how last week’s earnings were full of overvalued tech stocks that reported good earnings but still crashed back down to Earth?
Like a giant propped-up valuation colossus heaved a heavy sigh and keeled over?
Yeah, we found a counterexample today — 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD).
Earnings came in above expectations at $0.17 per share, destroying estimates for $0.02. Revenue also walloped analysts’ projections, coming in at $146.1 million to beat the consensus for $136.63 million.
Between the numbers lies a masterclass in pandemic operating costs.
While revenue only rose 7.7%, the company swung from a loss of $0.04 last year to a profit of $0.17 this year. That means 3D Systems must be a Gandalf-level wizard at controlling its costs. Many businesses (and people) talked about improving themselves during the pandemic lockdowns … but this lil’ 3D-printing stock really went and did it.
Better still, the company pointed toward its health care segment as a major growth driver going forward. Revenue for 3D Systems’ health care biz shot up 39% year over year, but I believe this division is just getting started.
3D Systems’ industrial growth is solid … slow, but solid. There’s a lot of competition there and a lot of different “printable” materials that DDD doesn’t work with. But health care? That’s going to be huge — and a lot more stringent with its quality controls.
Imagine this: On-site, patient-customizable parts like heart valves, stents, temporary replacements until permanent ones can be made. Oh, oh! We’ll get Intuitive Surgical in on it too — robot docs replacing robo-human parts, yeah!
It’s a 3D-printed revolution, man… And you can learn more about it right here!
The Bad: & Body Works
Breakups already sting — imagine if someone walked out the door with the body wash in hand.
You can have the Eucalyptus Spearmint, but only a monster takes my Cactus Blossom!
Anyway… L Brands (NYSE: LB) decided that its beauty brand umbrella was just too small to share. The company will spin off into two separate, publicly traded entities: Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret, which includes PINK and Victoria Secret Beauty.
Get your corporate B.S. translator ready because L Brands’ management expects the spinoff will “enable each company to maximize management focus and financial flexibility to thrive in an evolving retail environment.”
My take? Management thinks: “Y’all need to catch up.”
Bath & Body Works has already rebounded beyond its pre-pandemic levels, with last quarter’s sales rising 60% compared to 2019’s first quarter. It’s the hand sanitizer … I’m telling you, that stuff rocks.
Victoria’s Secret … not so much. Even in these stimulus-flush times, nobody’s buying Victoria’s Secret’s stuff. Sales are still down compared to 2019’s levels, and the brand has shuttered hundreds of stores in the meantime.
Sounds to me like Bath & Body Works just needed some breathing room … without lugging around dead weight from Victoria the Secret sloucher.
Honestly, Bath & Body Works is one stock that I’d actually like to check more into once it’s publicly traded. But what about you? Do you think the two brands better off together or apart? Do you not care either way? Oh, and whatever was Victoria’s secret?
The Ugly: Virgin Immobile
Name a better duo than Virgin Galactic (NYSE: SPCE) and ever-increasing investor doubt. I’ll wait.
The pre-revenue almost-a-space-company reported a stinker of a report last night — who’d have guessed? Absolutely zero sales or bookings came in on the quarter, much like the one before it.
The good news is that Virgin narrowed its loss by about $3.6 million on the quarter, which is nice … if Virgin had a clearer path to profitability. I mean, other than its current “maybe we’ll get to space!” pie-in-the-sky plans.
An earnings loss … $0 in revenue … it’d all be a bit more palatable for SPCE investors had Mike Moses, Virgin’s president of space missions and safety, not stepped up to the bat. Moses prophesized uncertainty around possible wear-and-tear issues on the mothership and launch platform.
Moses, this ain’t a burnin’ bush … the flight control computer’s fried!
So, let me get this straight. Virgin’s tried to get to space so much that its land vehicles are now getting wear-and-tear? From test runs, no less! Something tells me that you should probably fix those wear-and-tear issues on the ground before you, um, send people into space?!
Hard pass from me. On … everything to do with Virgin.
Great Stuff: And You Wanna Be My Spaceflight Salesman…
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Editor, Great Stuff