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Facebook results soar as user base and mobile ads grow

Published 30/07/2015

Facebook is growing on all fronts, shown by its second-quarter results (AP)
Facebook is growing on all fronts, shown by its second-quarter results (AP)

Facebook has surpassed expectations on all fronts in its second quarter, growing in not just profit and revenue, but in its already-massive user base and mobile advertising and usage of its "family" of apps like Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.

Nevertheless, the world's largest online social network's stock price slid after the quarterly results came out, as expenses soared 82% and cut into earnings. Some investors may have been waiting for even better results, or looking to cash in profits with Facebook's shares trading near record highs.

Facebook said it had 1.31 billion people visiting from a mobile device at least once a month, on average, during the quarter, up 23% from a year earlier.

Facebook had 1.49 billion monthly users overall, up 13%. It also had 968 million daily active users overall and 844 million on mobile devices.

"Once again Facebook has proven its ability to attract and retain users," said Forrester Research analyst Nate Elliott. "It's particularly impressive that users are more engaged than ever before - that the percentage of monthly users who visit every day continues to grow."

That is in contrast to Twitter, which continues to worry investors with stalling user growth and saw its stock price drop to its lowest level in more than a year on Wednesday.

Facebook's mobile advertising represented 76% of the total advertising revenue during the second quarter, proof that the company continues to attract advertisers to where its users are - on smartphones and other hand-held gadgets. That is up from 62% a year earlier.

While still far behind the number one, Google, Facebook has been steadily growing its share of the worldwide digital advertising market. Its share was 7.9% in 2014, up from 5.8% a year earlier, according to research firm eMarketer.

By the end of this year, eMarketer expects Facebook's share to surpass 9% of the 171 billion-dollar (£110bn) market. Google, meanwhile, is expected to hold on to its top post with about 31% of the market, down slightly from last year.

In all, Menlo Park, California-based Facebook's second-quarter net income was 715 million dollars (£458m), or 25 cents per share, down from 788 million dollars, or 30 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding special expenses such as stock compensation costs, Facebook earned 50 cents per share in the latest quarter, surpassing analysts' expectations of 47 cents, as polled by Zacks Investment Research.

Expenses rose 82% to 2.77 billion dollars (£1.7bn) from 1.52 billion (£974m). Facebook said costs related to last year's 19 billion-dollar (£12bn) WhatsApp acquisition, as well as hiring new employees, contributed to the quarter's higher spending.

Facebook ended the quarter with 10,955 employees, up 52% from a year earlier. The majority of new recruitments were in research and development, as the 11-year-old company continues to set its sights on the next decade and beyond.

Revenue jumped 39% to 4.04 billion dollars (£2.6bn) from 2.91 billion (£1.9bn), squeaking past analysts' expectations of 3.99 billion (£2.5bn).

Facebook's shares fell 3.24 dollars, or 3.3%, to 93.75 in after-hours trading. The stock had closed up 1.70 at 96.99, up more than 24% for the year.

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