Facebook's Q3 Beats Expectations but Focus on Security Will Impact Future Results

Posted November 03, 2017

With 1.37 billion daily active users and 2.07 billion monthly active users, Facebook again topped expectations when it reported 79 percent increase in its quarterly profit and almost 50 percent rise in revenues in the third quarter. Facebook Inc (FB) now boasts of over 2 billion monthly users, an increase from 1.7 billion a year ago. Third-quarter ad revenue rose 49% to $10.1 billion, beating the consensus of $9.71 billion.

But CEO Mark Zuckerberg sounded a warning note, after a hard few weeks of debate around the role of rogue Russian actors trying to influence the last USA presidential election through Facebook ads and posts.

Despite mounting criticism from United States lawmakers over Russia's use of its platform to spread propaganda, the company's stock has been trading at all-time highs ahead of Wednesday's results. "Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits". EPS (GAAP): $1.59 vs. $1.28 expected, up 77% from the year-ago period.

"We will continue to invest aggressively in the many opportunities we see ahead", Facebook chief financial officer David Wehner said during an earnings call with analysts.

"At first glance, no change to our positive thesis after Facebook reported stable ad revenue growth despite previous commentary around diminishing ad load contributions in (the second half of this year), wrote Baird analyst Colin Sebastian in a research note to clients". Facebook's advertising policies, however, have been under constant fire over the past few months after the revelation of Russian sponsored ads to induce differences between Americans during the Presidential elections.

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The quarterly earnings report was released as Facebook and other internet titans testified this week before Congress about a Russian-led effort to spread misinformation and sow discord ahead of the 2016 U.S. election.

Facebook now has more than 6 million advertisers, while the company's Instagram service has more than 2 million.

"So all told, that gets you to approximately - a little less than 150 million", Stretch said in response to questioning from Democratic Senator Mark Warner.

The one challenge the popular social media website faces is how it will be able prevent fake news, and how that could impact the company's operations. During the earnings call, Zuckerberg noted that they are making large-scale efforts in video content, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, among other areas.