Better Buy: Netflix vs. Facebook

FANG stocks are getting de-FANG-ed, and the first and third members of the tech giant acronym are taking the hardest hits. Shares of Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) have fallen 34% and 36%, respectively, since hitting all-time highs this summer.

Both internet bellwethers continue to dominate their respective industries. Facebook continues to be the world's leading social networking site, attracting 2.27 billion monthly active users. Netflix has 137.1 million total streaming memberships on its rolls. No one is even close to Facebook and Netflix in their realms, but the market apparently thinks that both companies are worth more than a third less than they did six months ago.

I'll spare you having to read until the end to get the victor. Netflix is a better buy than Facebook right now. Let's go over two big reasons why I'm rolling with Netflix in this battle.

1. Netflix is growing a lot faster

It's amazing how much can change in just a year or two. Facebook grew its revenue by 54% in 2016, smoking Netflix and its 30% uptick. Last year, we saw Facebook's 47% top-line surge trounce Netflix's at 32%. They are passing ships now.

Facebook's revenue rose 33% in its latest quarter, its weakest top-line increase in six years. Netflix clocked in with 34% growth during the same three months, its first -- and likely not last -- period of outpacing Facebook. Analysts see growth slowing for both companies in 2019, but Netflix has the edge with a 26% improvement in revenue and Facebook at 24%.

2. Facebook is mired in controversy

A lot is going wrong for Facebook these days. There are data privacy concerns, and those hiccups are being mishandled by executives. The reputational hits are taking a heavy toll. The daily active user count has been flat in the U.S. and Canada for the past three quarters, checking in with an actual decline in Europe in the third quarter. Bulls will argue that Facebook is still winning, as it owns two of the platforms that are catching many of the Facebook defectors. However, Instagram and WhatsApp will never be as conducive to monetization as the mother of all social networking sites.

Netflix has skirted most of the brand-tarnishing nightmares. There's always some venom slinging when the service fails to renew a popular series. There was an article two months ago discussing its cutthroat corporate culture. None of this comes close to the faith-zapping nature of Facebook's miscues. Facebook controversies are likely playing a starring role in its decelerating growth, while Netflix is capping off a year that will be highlighted by its strongest revenue growth since 2011.

Wrapping things up

Netflix isn't the perfect investment. Valuation hounds will point out that it trades at three times the forward earnings multiple of Facebook. There are tech and entertainment behemoths that will hit the market with new streaming services next year.

However, for investors, there's a big difference between being currently broken -- as Facebook is at the moment -- and being potentially broken in the future as Netflix might be. One also can't deny momentum, as Netflix is piecing together its strongest growth in years while Facebook closes out its third year in a row of decelerating top-line growth. Both stocks may now be on sale, but Netflix is the smarter bargain here.

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Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook and Netflix. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.