In a series of brilliant quarters, except one, after it went public, Facebook capped the first quarter of 2016 with yet another stellar performance.
Facebook revenue soared more than 50 percent to $5.38 billion from $3.54 billion with advertising sales increasing by 56.8 percent to $5.20 billion. Mobile advertising carried the bulk, accounting for about 82 percent of total revenue.
The company's net income grew nearly three times to $1.51 billion from $509 million a year earlier, with earnings per share jumping to 52 cents from 18 cents last year. Excluding certain expenses, EPS hit 77 cents, beating Wall Street's 62-cent expectation.
Facebook shares surged by 9.5 percent, climbing to $118.39 in after-hours trading on April 27.
The company's Q1 2016 performance is a departure from a trend of disappointing results from other Silicon Valley companies. Apple reported a drop in revenue during the first quarter, a first in 13 years, while Twitter and Alphabet let down analysts' expectations. For IBM, Q1 2016 is by far its weakest first quarter in terms of revenue during the last 14 years.
The first quarter positive sentiment illustrated the traction Facebook is gaining with advertisers for both mobile and video.
Facebook continued to widen its user base to boost its advertising efforts. The company disclosed that about 1.65 billion users logged in to their Facebook accounts at least once a month during the first quarter compared to 1.59 billion during the previous quarter. On average, a Facebook user spends around 50 minutes on any or all of its popular apps like Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Messenger.
Analysts say there is significant headroom for the rest of the year if Facebook builds momentum into its popular apps, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Advertisers are shifting advertising money from print and television to digital media, which is projected by advertising companies to surpass television as the largest advertising medium as early as 2017.
Analysts at data firm eMarketer expect Facebook to corner about 12 percent of the $186.8 billion global market for digital advertising this year, up from its market share last year.
Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Wehner, however, warned that growth rates may slow down later in the year. "We expect that the main drivers of advertising revenue growth will continue through 2016, but we will face tougher comparable as the year progresses given the accelerating ad revenue growth we experienced throughout 2015," he told investors during a conference call.
Three-For-One Stock Split
During April 27's first quarter earnings announcement, Facebook also revealed the creation by the board of directors of a new class of shares, a "C" class that will have no voting rights. The shares will be awarded to Class A and Class B class common stock holders as a one-time dividend, two shares apiece.
If the proposal is approved, it will further consolidate founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's bid to retain a majority of voting stock and control of Facebook. Investors said they are not worried of Zuckerberg's increasing control as long as the company is able to grow and exceed expectations.
The move also allows Zuckerberg to sell Class C shares to fund his philanthropic advocacies without losing voting control of the company he founded. He earlier announced that he and his wife, Priscilla, would give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares to fund their charitable endeavors that include the eradication of disease, environmental protection from climate change and improvement of the educational system.
Photo: Andrew Feinberg | Flickr