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Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) is huge, recently posting a market value north of $ 800 billion, and many large companies are growing slower than smaller ones. But Facebook’s revenue rose 22% in 2020 from levels a year ago, while operating profit jumped 36%. Here are some bigger numbers: The company’s daily active users averaged 1.8 billion in December, with the number of monthly active users averaging 2.8 billion and growing.

While many fast-growing tech stocks have high price-to-earnings (P / E) ratios, Facebook’s P / E was only recently in the mid-20s. The factors that kept the stock from skyrocketing recent times include concerns over Apple’s restriction on privacy and rumors that Washington is forcing the company to split its family of platforms Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. In the event of a break-up, investors would likely benefit, as they would receive segments of spin-offs that would continue to grow on their own. And while Apple may reduce Facebook’s ability to track user data, Facebook will always remain a powerful digital advertising channel, providing access to billions of consumers.

(The Motley Fool owns stock and recommended Facebook. Randi Zuckerberg, former director of market development and spokesperson for Facebook and sister of its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of the board of directors of The Motley Fools.)

Ask the fool

Q: Is it better to invest in individual stocks through a brokerage account than to invest through a 401 (k) account? AA, Salisbury, Maryland

A: Both can work well. You will have more control and the possibility of faster growth with individual stocks, but it can also be a riskier strategy, as one or more stocks could seriously disappoint you.

With a 401 (k) account, your investment choices will usually be much more limited; you may need to choose from a small group of mutual funds, for example. But 401 (k) s offer tax breaks, and if your employer matches part of your contribution to your account, that’s free money.

You can actually use both your 401 (k) and invest in some individual stocks. But if you’re not going to research and track these individual stocks, stick with one or two low-cost, broad-market index funds that you can probably invest in through your 401 (k) as well.

Whichever route you take, start saving and investing as soon as possible to give your money plenty of time to grow. You can learn much more about retirement and investing through our Pay for Retirement service at Fool.com/services.

Q: How often should I review the stocks I hold in my portfolio? EM, Dallas

A: Ideally, follow these companies at least every three months, when they release their quarterly and annual reports. Read reports and accompanying press releases and financial statements, which can usually be found on company websites. Search for articles about businesses on Google News and on Fool.com. You may be checking large, established companies less often, but the more you know about all of your holdings, the smarter the decisions you can make about your portfolio.

My dumbest investment

My dumbest investment decision was not to invest in the stock market after the 2007-2009 financial crisis. Jimmy, online

The madman replies: You are highlighting a major type of mistake that we all make sometimes is the mistake of not doing something right, instead of doing something wrong.

A lot of people haven’t invested during this time because that’s what we humans tend to do by nature: if a lot of people panic and sell stocks, causing the stock price to fall, it is. easy to join and difficult to be contrary. But stock market crashes are great times to buy stocks, as the stocks of large companies will be on the market.

The S&P 500 Index of 500 of the Americas’ largest companies fell by more than a third in 2008, and fell a little more in early 2009 before rebounding. The S&P 500 low at that time was around 676, in March 2009. If you had the courage to buy shares of an S&P 500 index fund near that low, say 700, and you you were hooked, you would have done quite well, as the index was recently at 3,974, a gain of over 450%. If you had bought the index a year later when it was at 1140, your gain would be less than 250%.

It’s not a bad idea to keep some cash on hand for the occasional market crash, to buy cheap stocks that you’d like to own.

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