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Facebook, Inc. Earnings: What to Watch

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is scheduled to report quarterly results after the market closes on Wednesday, July 26. With the release following Facebook's recent 2 billion-user milestone, investors will be looking to see whether the social network's growth story remains intact as the company achieves unprecedented reach.

Thanks to Facebook's high-flying stock price recently, the stakes are high going into Facebook's earnings release. In the past six months, Facebook stock is up 29%. And in the past three months alone, the stock has risen 17%.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Image source: Facebook.

Ahead of Facebook's earnings release, here's some background for the quarter.

Facebook's most recent quarter

Metric

Q1 2017

Q1 2016

Year-Over-Year Change

Revenue

$8.0 billion

$5.4 billion

49%

Operating margin

41%

37%

400 basis points

Net income

$3.1 billion

$1.7 billion

76%

EPS

$1.04

$0.60

73%

Data source: Facebook quarterly SEC filings. Table source: author.

Revenue growth

As it is every quarter, Facebook's revenue for the quarter will be one of the most closely watched metrics. Revenue growth has become a particularly hot top recently as the social network's year-over-year revenue growth rates have begun decelerating. Facebook's year-over-year revenue growth in its first quarter was 49%, down from 54% in the fourth quarter of 2016 and from 56% in Q3.

For Facebook's second quarter, investors should naturally expect further revenue growth deceleration as the social network faces off against a tough revenue comparison in the year-ago quarter.

But the most interesting facet of Facebook's revenue growth story for the quarter may be the social network's outlook. Management has warned that it expects revenue growth to come down meaningfully in the second half of the year, as the company faces tough comparisons and as its ad load growth slows.

Earnings per share

Beyond revenue, another financial metric to watch next week will be earnings per share. Bolstered by Facebook's expanding operating margin (up about 400 basis points year over year in Q1), Facebook's earnings per share is set to move higher.

On average, analysts expect Facebook to report non-GAAP EPS of $1.12, up from $0.97 in the year-ago quarter and from $1.04 in Facebook's first quarter of 2017.

Messaging

Another aspect of Facebook's business that will be worth checking on next Wednesday is messaging. Both Facebook's messaging apps, Messenger and WhatsApp, have 1.2 billion monthly active users each, making them the world's largest social networks after Facebook itself.

Image source: Facebook.

Facebook has recently been doubling down on its efforts to connect users and businesses in its messaging apps. More recently, Facebook has even started launching advertisements in Messenger. Earlier this month, Facebook said any of its advertisers will soon be able to buy ads in Messenger. The move will dramatically expand the reach of its existing ad products, giving advertisers new ways to reach customers.

Facebook will report its second-quarter results after market close next Wednesday. Facebook will also host a conference call to discuss its quarterly results at 2:00 p.m. PT on the same day.

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Daniel Sparks owns shares of Facebook. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.