Fri, Jul 26, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Facebook soars after Q2 results beat estimates

GAINING FACE:Strong mobile advertising revenue has enabled Facebook to defy market expectations to boost its share price by 17 percent


Facebook’s stock is flying high after the world’s biggest social network posted higher revenue from mobile ads and delivered a healthy second-quarter profit that reversed a loss in the same period a year ago.

The company began showing mobile advertisements for the first time in spring last year. On Wednesday, Facebook said mobile ads accounted for a whopping 41 percent of its total advertising revenue.

The Menlo Park, California-based company’s stock jumped US$4.48, or 17 percent, to US$30.99 in extended trading. The shares had closed the regular trading session at US$26.51. Facebook’s stock priced at US$38 when the company went public in May last year, but has not hit that level since.

“I’m completely surprised,” Gartner analyst Brian Blau said, summing up the sentiments of many investors who have watched Facebook’s stock price stagnate over the past year due in large part to concerns about its mobile prospects.

“I was actually thinking that maybe they would have a soft quarter,” he added, citing a softening of display advertising revenue — Facebook’s bread and butter — across the industry. “That seems not to be the case.”

Facebook Inc earned US$333 million, or US$0.13 per share, in the April-to-June period. That is up from a loss of US$157 million, or US$0.08 per share, in the same period a year ago. Adjusted earnings were US$488 million, or US$0.19 per share in the latest quarter, above the US$0.14 that analysts were expecting.

Facebook’s revenue grew 53 percent to US$1.81 billion from US$1.18 billion, well above the US$1.62 million that analysts polled by FactSet were expecting. The company has also quickened the pace of its revenue growth. In the first quarter, revenue grew 38 percent and in the fourth quarter of last year, 40 percent.

Jefferies analyst Brian Pitz called the quarter’s results “impressive” and said that Facebook saw its highest revenue growth since the fourth quarter of 2011, when it was still a private company.

Mobile ad revenue was US$655.6 million, or 41 percent of the quarter’s total advertising revenue of US$1.6 billion. In the first quarter, mobile accounted for 30 percent of total ad revenue.

“We’ve made good progress growing our community, deepening engagement and delivering strong financial results, especially on mobile,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. “The work we’ve done to make mobile the best Facebook experience is showing good results and provides us with a solid foundation for the future.”

Research firm eMarketer expects Facebook to increase its mobile advertising revenue more than fourfold to more than US$2 billion this year. This would give the company a 13 percent share of the global mobile ad market, up from about 5 percent last year.

Zuckerberg sought to ease concerns that teenagers are growing tired of Facebook and flocking to newer, hipper services such as (Facebook-owned) Instagram.

“Based on our data, that isn’t true,” he said. “It’s difficult to measure this perfectly since some young people lie about their age, but based on the best data we have, we believe we have close to fully penetrated in the US teen demographic for a while, and the number of teens using Facebook on a daily and monthly basis has been steady over the past year and a half.”

Facebook has also been working to increase its international advertising revenue, since most of its users live outside of the US. The company announced this week that more than 100 million people access Facebook using traditional, non-smart phones in countries like India, Indonesia and the Philippines. More than 53 percent, or US$965 million, of the quarter’s revenue came from outside the US and Canada.

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