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Facebook : Mark Zuckerberg lost $16.8 billion

Facebook lost more than $130 billion in market value in just two hours, its steepest stock decline ever, after warning of slowing sales growth for the rest of the year.

The stock plunged as much as 24% in after-hours trading Wednesday, causing competitors Snap and Twitter to drop, too.

Traders are bracing for a decline in tech stocks when the markets open Thursday.

Chief financial officer David Wehner triggered the selloff when he said sales growth would continue to slow through the rest of the year.

 

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Shares, which had already declined 7 percent after hours, then as much as 24 percent after the comments on a conference call with analysts.

The personal wealth of Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg took a major hit.

He lost $16.8 billion in extended trading.

If that loss holds through Thursday’s close, he will slip to sixth place from third in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Facebook had already been walloped after reporting weaker-than-expected revenue growth in the second quarter.

Facebook said it had sales of $13.23 billion for the three months ended in June instead of the $13.3 billion Wall Street expected — the first such miss since 2015.

 

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Also concerning to investors: Facebook’s growth is slowing with users in some of its most lucrative markets. Facebook reported its slowest growth rate ever, with 2.23 billion people logging in at least once a month in June, below the 2.25 billion analysts expected.

The number of users who logged each day fell short, too, up 11 percent year-over-year at 1.47 billion but still less than the 1.49 billion anticipated.

Daily usage was unchanged in its biggest market, the United States and Canada, at 185 million daily users. But Facebook saw a decline in Europe to 279 million daily users.

 

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Facebook reported net income of $5.11 billion, or $1.74 a share, beating analysts’ estimate of $1.71 a share.

Shares, which hit a record high Wednesday, plunged as much as 11% after Facebook posted the results.

Even in the midst of one of the darkest periods in its 14-year history, Facebook had seemed to shrug off Russian election interference, the mishandling of millions of Americans’ personal information by Cambridge Analytica and the unchecked spread of fabricated news.

 

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was hauled in front of lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in March. Federal agencies began to probe Facebook, prompting calls for increased regulation.

And yet investors and advertisers were undeterred, propelling the stock to new highs. On Wednesday the fallout appeared in its latest results and in its outlook.

 

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Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser, who has a sell rating on the stock, says digital advertising has limits to growth.

“Deceleration such as management guided towards suggests that, while the company is still growing at a fast clip, the days of 30% plus growth are numbered,” Wieser wrote in a research note.

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