Just three and a half months after taking a major hit during the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Facebook stock finished the week at $203.23, a new record level and its first time north of $200. Shares have gained more than 25% since mid-March.
While the stock certainly benefited from an overall bullish Friday on Wall Street, investors were also reacting to the news that Facebook has landed its biggest sports streaming deal yet. News emerged Thursday that the social network acquired rights to carry all 380 Premier League soccer matches a season from 2019-2022 in Asian territories including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Reports pegged the value of the deal at about $264 million.
The company has previously done streaming deals with Major League Baseball and the World Surf League, among other sports entities, but the global nature of the Premier League makes the pact noteworthy. Streaming rights for the NFL and the UFC in recent months have fetched sizable fees as companies reckon with viewers’ ongoing embrace of digital platforms.
Wall Street has been able to look past the disconcerting Cambridge Analytica affair because of Facebook’s massive global footprint, its rapid gains in the advertising sector and the growth of Instagram. In a research report Thursday, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield raised his 12-month price target to $275 and made a full-throated case for the social-media original despite the avalanche of criticism it has faced.
“While regulators and the press have had a field day attacking Facebook’s behavior, we continue to believe consumers simply could not care less — they love Facebook and all of its key services,” Greenfield wrote. “In fact, we sense the shift toward more personal content on Facebook (vs. third-party publisher content) has notably improved the quality of the core Facebook experience.”
Since going public in 2012, Facebook has seen its stock rise more than 400%. Twitter, meanwhile, is roughly even with its 2013 offer price, and Snapchat parent Snap Inc. is down by nearly half the level where it debuted in 2017.