A coalition of states is suing to try to break up Facebook Inc. — the latest event to call the company’s future into question. If Microsoft Corp.’s antitrust ordeal is at all analogous — over three years from suit to settlement — it could be a long time before the outcome of all this is known. And it could be years more until we see the ultimate impact on Facebook.

For investors in the social media company’s stock, the future might look different from the kind of innovation and industry dominance we’ve seen over the past decade. But it could still turn out well for shareholders if the company’s focus shifts more toward optimizing its operations for near-term profitability with an emphasis on financial engineering.

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