Blackberry Surges After Facebook Buys WhatsApp

Does the $19 billion acquisition imply a big value for BBM?

| More on:
The Motley Fool
You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s premium investing services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn more

The number was so big that it looked like a typo. On February 19, Facebook (Nasdaq:FB) announced it would buy over-the-top messaging app-maker WhatsApp for $19 billion. That works out to over $40 per registered user, and more impressively, $350 million per employee.

Back in December, Blackberry (TSX:BB)(Nasdaq:BBRY) CEO John Chen identified Blackberry Messenger (BBM) as a key piece of the company’s plans going forward. BBM remains very popular, as evidenced by the overwhelming response when it became available on non-Blackberry devices. But since the business unit is still non-revenue-generating, it is difficult for analysts and investors to place a value on BBM. Facebook’s announcement showed that messaging services, even free ones, can have a lot of value.

Blackberry’s enterprise value is only $3.2 billion, meaning that Facebook paid about six times more for WhatsApp than the entire value of Blackberry’s assets. So it’s not surprising that Blackberry shares surged over 4% the day after Facebook’s announcement. But two questions remain. First of all, why didn’t Facebook save itself over $10 billion by taking out Blackberry instead? Second, does Facebook’s purchase imply a much bigger value for BBM than originally thought?

The first question is fairly straightforward. Blackberry would be a poor fit with Facebook, which is why there has never been any real speculation that such a merger would take place. Blackberry still has a very tattered brand, as well as other businesses that are unfamiliar to Facebook. Blackberry also is going after a much different market than Facebook. Finally, Blackberry is still burning cash, and either a turnaround or divestitures would pose a major distraction for Facebook.

The second question, concerning BBM’s implied value, is much more difficult to answer. But there are some key differences between WhatsApp and Blackberry. First of all, Facebook’s $19 billion purchase price for WhatsApp only makes sense in the context of the social network’s 1.2 billion registered users. Secondly, WhatsApp’s user base is more than five times as large as Blackberry’s, and growing more quickly too. Finally, Facebook may very well have overpaid.

Foolish bottom line

There is certainly value in BBM, and Facebook’s announcement implied that this value may be unappreciated. But there are too many important differences between WhatsApp and BBM for this event to be more meaningful. If Blackberry’s investors want to get as rich as WhatsApp’s employees, they’ll need a lot more patience.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

More on Investing

Simple life style relaxation with Asian working business woman healthy lifestyle take it easy resting in comfort hotel or home living room having free time with peace of mind and self health balance
Stocks for Beginners

New Investors: Follow the KISS Model With These 3 TSX Stocks

These TSX stocks keep it super simple for new investors. You'll need each of these services over the next decade…

Read more »

stock research, analyze data
Dividend Stocks

RRSP Investors: 1 Cheap TSX Dividend Stock to Buy Now and Own for 35 Years

RRSP investors can still find top TSX dividend stocks to buy at discounted prices.

Read more »

A airplane sits on a runway.

Why Did Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) Stock Surge Over 75% in a Month?

Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) stock has surged over 75% in last 30 days after strong second-quarter earnings. Is it a buy at…

Read more »

financial freedom sign
Stocks for Beginners

Millennials: Pay Down Debt and Get Rich in Just 1 Decade

Millennials continue to have huge debt on their hands, but they can pay it off and become rich by getting…

Read more »

Cogs turning against each other
Dividend Stocks

2 of the Safest Stocks (With Dividends) to Buy in Canada Now

Here are two of the safest stocks investors in Canada can buy now.

Read more »

Money growing in soil , Business success concept.
Tech Stocks

Got $1,000? Buy These 3 Top Growth Stocks

These three Canadian growth stocks could deliver superior returns over the long run.

Read more »

edit Businessman using calculator next to laptop
Dividend Stocks

2 Top Canadian Value Stocks Worth Buying Right Now

Here's why Alimentation Couche-Tard (TSX:ATD) and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TSX:TD)(NYSE:TD) are two top value stocks to consider right now.

Read more »

A worker wears a hard hat outside a mining operation.
Metals and Mining Stocks

Ivanhoe (TSX:IVN) Had a Record Quarter: Should You Buy the Stock Today?

Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. (TSX:IVN) delivered record profits in its Q2 2022 earnings, which should spur investors to look hard at…

Read more »