Friday, August 10, 2012

Facebook or al Qaeda? Investors Struggle with Dilemma

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Two of the world's most well-known violators of privacy and security are now being questioned by investors about their long-term sustainability after recent revelations of destabilized leadership and lackluster performance. Facebook disappointed shareholders last week when it reported a decline of over 13 percent. As a result, shares slumped to $21.71 at the close in New York on July 31. After three consecutive days of decline, the world's largest social network reported a drop to 6.2 percent -- an historic low. All in all, Facebook's value has waned 43 percent since its IPO. Like Facebook, international terror group al Qaeda has also delivered equally disappointing second-quarter figures. In a report issued last Tuesday, U.S. intelligence agencies declared terrorist attacks by al Qaeda to have reached their lowest levels since 2005. Analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein noted that both enterprises have created a difficult predicament for investors seeking to gain from long-term solvency and returns. "Still, if I were looking at the business model with the most staying power, something not easily displaced by the next new fad, I'd put my money on al Qaeda," said one economist.

Al Qaeda's senior executives, generally considered to hold the only stable positions within the organization, were terminated by U.S. regulators. With CEO Osama bin Laden and COO Anwar al-Awlaki removed from power, the group has faltered. Attacks have been poorly orchestrated, small scale, and lacking the creative vision that drove oil companies, Wall Street banks, and power brokers such as the Bilderberg Group and the Carlyle Group to pour money into the family-owned business.

"The loss of bin Laden and these other key operatives puts the network on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse," the State Department said in its annual "Country Reports on Terrorism" document.

Al Qaeda's lack of innovation in the pathetic Delta Air Lines sandwich plot offered measurable proof of the group's fall from glory. Because many of al Qaeda's funding sources pulled back after the leadership shakedowns, al Qaeda also found itself in a financially compromised position.

"We can't afford badly needed supplies at this time," an inside source explained. "But we had to do something. So we gathered up our petty cash and bought as many travel sewing kits as we could afford in the airport gift shops. Then we put them in the sandwiches. We admit, it's a little embarrassing and not our best work. Death to the infidels!"

A lack of resources and opportunity seems also to have plagued Facebook. Sales growth has failed to keep pace with user expansion as more people access the service with mobile phones. Facebook lured investors to its IPO by promising huge returns based on ad revenues, but unlike Google, only two to three people on Facebook have ever accidentally clicked on a sponsored ad.

Further hindering the profit-producing potential of Facebook was Friday's settlement by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), resolving allegations that the social network repeatedly deceived its subscribers about the privacy and use of their information. The FTC did not officially levy monetary fines as it had with Google, stating that Facebook's lack of worth made it appear unable to pay. But the agency did impose heightened regulations and monitoring protocols as part of the compromise. Without stealthily stealing user data and selling it to marketers, Facebook's future profitability seems dubious at best.

"With both Facebook and al Qaeda unable to adequately perform, breach private intelligence, or unleash their usual brand of strong-arm terror tactics against consumers, any wise investor can merely speculate as to which has the best chance of survival or recovery," said Len Waybill, head economist of the Peter Pinguid Society.

For Waybill, the smart money remains on al Qaeda.

"Facebook has no access to natural resources such as oil," Waybill continued. "It's a service that operates off ego. But another person's private drama won't put gas in your car. Also, despite some recent blunders, the State Department firmly admitted that al Qaeda remains 'adaptable and poses an enduring and serious threat.' For a finance expert, that translates to 'al Qaeda can restructure and get back in the game a lot easier than Facebook.'"

As of Friday, Facebook's stock was languishing at $21.81. Halliburton, the U.S. holding company for al Qaeda International, was up 14 points to $35.19.

(c) 2012. See disclaimers.

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