Fri, Apr 25, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Advertising powers Facebook surge in first quarter


A smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his smartphone in Zenica, Bosnia, on May 2 last year. Facebook Inc’s mobile advertising business continued to accelerate in the first three months of this year.

Photo: Reuters

Facebook Inc’s earnings nearly tripled and revenue grew sharply in the first quarter, surpassing Wall Street’s expectations thanks to an 82 percent increase in advertising revenue.

The world’s biggest online social network on Wednesday said that it earned US$642 million, or US$0.25 per share, in the January-to-March quarter, up from US$219 million, or US$0.09 per share, in the same period a year ago.

Adjusted earnings — which exclude stock compensation expenses and other costs — were US$885 million, or US$0.34 per share, in the latest quarter.

Facebook’s revenue was US$2.5 billion, up 71 percent from US$1.46 billion in the same period a year ago.

Shares of California-based Facebook climbed US$2.34, or 3.8 percent, to US$63.71 in extended trading after the results came out.

There were 1.28 billion monthly Facebook users at the end of last month, up 15 percent from a year earlier. The number of users who log in every day increased 21 percent to 802 million.

The company said advertising revenue totaled US$2.27 billion in the first quarter of the year. Of this, mobile advertising accounted for US$1.34 billion, or 59 percent. That is a bigger share than in the fourth quarter of last year, the first time mobile accounted for more than half of Facebook’s advertising revenue, at 53 percent.

Facebook held a 6 percent share of worldwide digital ad revenues last year, according to research firm eMarketer, which expects the company’s share to grow to nearly 7 percent this year.

In comparison, Google Inc garnered 32 percent of worldwide digital ad spending last year and is expected to drop slightly to a fraction below that number by the end of this year.

On the mobile front, Facebook accounted for nearly 15 percent of worldwide ad revenue and is expected to steal some of Google’s share this year to grow to 22 percent.

In comparison, Google’s share was 49 percent last year and is expected to drop to about 47 percent by this year’s end.

Facebook also said chief financial officer David Ebersman is leaving on June 1 after five years. He is to be replaced by David Wehner, currently vice president of corporate finance and business planning.

Facebook’s results came the same day the US Federal Trade Commission cleared its US$2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR, a maker of virtual reality goggles. The company also agreed to buy WhatsApp, a mobile messaging service, for US$19 billion during the first quarter. The company is largely using Facebook stock to make both purchases.

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