Facebook beats, closes in on 2 billion users

FacebookFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook grew its revenue by 49% during the first three months of the year, blowing past Wall Street’s revenue and profit targets.

The world’s largest social network continued to grow its audience during the first quarter, with its 1.93 billion users just shy of the 2 billion mark.

Shares of Facebook were down roughly 2% in after hours trading, despite the solid results.

Facebook noted in its announcement that its Q1 results represented the first time it is “no longer reporting non-GAAP expenses, income, tax rate, and earnings per share,” which may have caused some confusion among investors evaluating the company’s latest results.

Facebook CFO David Wehner expressed confidence in the ramp up of new money-making businesses during an interview with Business Insider after the Q1 results on Wednesday. Wehner cited the Facebook-owned Instagram app, as well as the video ad format, as the company’s main growth drivers going forward.

Here are the key numbers from Facebook’s Q1:

  • EPS (GAAP): $US1.04 vs. $US0.87 expected, up 73% from the year-ago period.
  • Revenue: $US8.03 billion vs. $US7.83 billion expected, up 49% from the year-ago period.
  • Monthly active users: 1.94 billion, up from 1.86 billion last quarter.
  • Daily active users: 1.28 billion, up from 1.23 billion last quarter.

All eyes are on what Facebook has cautioned to be a “meaningful” slowdown in revenue growth this year as it reaches the limit of the number of ads it can show in the News Feed. Luckily, the company is starting to ramp up with Instagram and video ads, which Wall Street sees as two key growth drivers.

In an interview with Business Insider on Wednesday, Facebook CFO Dave Wehner reiterated his previous comments that revenue growth from the News Feed will slow going into the second quarter. He said that the main drivers for revenue growth going forward will be Instagram and video ads, although the company’s midroll video ads are still in their “earlier days” of testing.

Facebook doesn’t break out how much money it makes from Instagram, but eMarketer predicts the app to reach $US3.9 billion in ad revenue this year, up 106% from the year prior.

Looking ahead, Wehner said the company plans to significantly increase its spending as it hires more employees and builds more data centres and internet infrastructure projects. He said that 1,700 new employees were added during the first quarter, a company record.

Here are some charts showing Facebook’s growth from Q1:

We’ll be updating this post with more information from Facebook’s Q1 results as we have them, so click here to get the latest details.

This story is developing…

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