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Facebook's (FB) Mobile & Video Efforts Drive Q3 Earnings

Still reeling under the effects of the Russia ad fiasco and the subsequent Congress probe, Facebook, Inc. FB came up with a stellar third-quarter 2017 performance.

The company’s third-quarter 2017 earnings of $1.59 per share and revenues of $10.33 billion beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.29 and $9.88 billion, respectively.

On a year-over-year basis, revenues grew 47%. Facebook’s mobile and live video efforts continue to pay off big time. Instagram remains an important growth driver. COO Sheryl Sandberg said that video was emerging as an “exploding” opportunity.

Given the phenomenal increase in mobile ad business and video efforts, the stock has vastly outperformed the broader market. In the past one year, Facebook’s shares have generated a return of 52.2%, compared with the industry’s gain of 31%.


However, the company said that operating margins will take a hit going forward as it will make sizable investments to strengthen security on its platform in light of recent developments. Also, expenses will rise due to investments made in video content to support Watch and development of augmented/ virtual reality (AR/VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Additional spend on infrastructure to support and improve the available products will lead to a 100% increase in capex in 2018. These projections overshadowed the good show as shares fell 2% in the aftermarket session.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg was quoted saying, “Our community continues to grow and our business is doing well. But none of that matters if our services are used in ways that don't bring people closer together. We're serious about preventing abuse on our platforms. We're investing so much in security that it will impact our profitability. Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits.”

Quarterly Numbers in Details

Revenues surged 45% from the prior-year quarter, excluding the impact of year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates.

Facebook’s consistently expanding user base remains one of its biggest growth catalysts. Its monthly active users (MAUs) were up 16% year over year to a staggering 2.07 billion. Daily Active Users (DAUs) were 1.37 billion, reflecting a 16% year-over-year increase.

Advertising revenues were $10.14 billion, surging 49% year over year. Growth was driven by increasing mobile engagement, higher number of marketers and consistent investment in new products.

Mobile ad revenues in the quarter were $8.9 billion (up 57% year over year), contributing 88% to total ad revenues. Ad impressions grew 10%, driven by surging mobile ad impressions on both Facebook and Instagram platforms. Average price per ad increased 35% from the year-ago quarter.

Payments and other fees decreased 5% year over year to $186 million in the reported quarter, owing to a reduction in payment revenues related to PC games. Management expects revenues from this segment to decline further as PCs lose market share. 

Cost and expenses increased 34% to $4.92 billion due to a rise in workforce and marketing expenses. However, robust revenue growth provided enough cushion to operating margins. Operating income of $5.1 billion grew 64% year over year. Operating margin was 50%, compared with 44% reported in the year-ago period.

Facebook, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

Facebook, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise | Facebook, Inc. Quote

Balance Sheet & Cash Flow

Facebook exited the quarter with cash and cash equivalents, and marketable securities of $38.29 billion.

The company generated nearly $6.13 billion of cash flow from operating activities in the second quarter of 2017 compared with $4.04 billion in the year-ago period. Free cash flow was $4.37 billion compared with $2.94 billion in the year-ago quarter. The company incurred capital expenditure of $1.76 billion in the reported quarter.


GAAP expenses are projected to increase in a band of 35­–40% compared with the earlier expected range of 40–45%. Capex is likely to be at the lower end of the earlier guided range of $7–$7.5 billion. For 2018, the company anticipates total expenses to increase 45% to 60% year over year while capex is expected to double from 2017 levels.

At present, Facebook carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Other Stocks to Consider 

Top-ranked stocks in the broader technology sector include NVIDIA Corporation NVDA Applied Materials AMAT, and Jabil Inc JBL. While NVIDIA Corp and Jabil sport a Zacks Rank #1, Applied Materials carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Long-term earnings growth rate for NVIDIA, Applied Materials and Jabil is currently projected to be 11.2%, 17.1% and 12%, respectively.

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