Fri, Jul 25, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Facebook stock reaches record high

AD ADVANCE:The company said that increased interest from both advertisers and users had boosted revenue by 61% in Q2, pushing overall revenue to US$2.91 billion

Reuters, SAN FRANCISCO

Facebook Inc’s fast-growing mobile advertising business helped drive a 61 percent increase in revenue during the second quarter, beating analysts’ financial targets and sending shares to a record-high in after-hours trading on Wednesday.

The world’s No. 1 Internet social network said on Wednesday that it saw an increased interest from both advertisers and users during the second quarter, while the company’s profit margins expanded.

Facebook now counts 1.5 million advertising customers and the company’s advertising business saw strong growth across all of its geographic regions, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg told reporters in an interview on Wednesday.

“We’re seeing our existing advertisers spend more and we’re seeing new people come on to the platform,” Sandberg said.

Investors bid up shares of Facebook about 5 percent to US$75.13 in after-hours trading on Wednesday, giving the Internet company a roughly US$190 billion valuation, putting it on par with IBM Corp.

“It might be more expensive from a market cap perspective, but I don’t think anyone was expecting this level of profitability,” JMP Securities analyst Ronald Josey said.

Facebook’s operating margin expanded to 48 percent of revenue in the second quarter, up from 31 percent a year ago.

Overall revenue of US$2.91 billion beat the average expectation of US$2.81 billion, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Facebook executives said on a conference call that the company planned to invest aggressively in new projects, such as the Oculus virtual reality headset business that Facebook recently acquired for US$2 billion.

They also reiterated past comments that nascent advertising efforts in video and in the Instagram photo-sharing app would not contribute significantly to the top line in the near term.

Nor will Facebook take the “cheap and easy” route of putting ads or payment capabilities within its Messenger app, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a conference call with analysts.

JMP’s Josey said that the go-slow approach was not a concern for investors.

“There’s really no rush to add them because their core business is doing so well,” he said.

Facebook said it now counted 1.32 billion monthly users, with roughly 63 percent accessing the service every day.

Mobile advertising revenue grew 151 percent year-over-year, accounting for roughly 62 percent of Facebook’s overall ad revenue.

Facebook’s newsfeed advertisments, which inject paid marketing messages straight into a user’s stream of news and content, have ignited the company’s revenue growth and bolstered the price of its stock price during the past year.

Facebook posted US$791 million in net income, compared with US$333 million in the second quarter of last year. Excluding certain items, Facebook said it earned US$0.42 a share in the second quarter, surpassing expectations of US$0.32 a share.

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