Facebook quarterly results beat on most metrics

Facebook reported quarterly results Wednesday that topped analyst estimates on nearly every metric.

The company said its adjusted second-quarter earnings came in at 50 cents per share on $4.04 billion in revenue. Wall Street analysts forecast Facebook would deliver earnings of 47 cents per share on $3.99 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

"The quarter was a great quarter almost any way you look at it," David Wehner, Facebook's CFO, told CNBC after the earnings came out.

Despite the beat, Facebook shares fell about 5 percent in after-hours trading soon after the announcement, but then pared some of those losses as traders digested the report and comments from executives. Saying he couldn't comment on the extended-hours stock movement, Wehner emphasized that "the important story here is we're executing well on the business, the community is growing, engagement is strong."

Facebook said it saw monthly active users (MAUs) of 1.49 billion for June, with 1.31 billion MAUs on mobile.

Analysts had expected total average MAUs around 1.48 billion, with the mobile MAU number reaching 1.29 billion, according to StreetAccount.

"The real story here is just the core mobile business on Facebook, that's what's driving the growth—mobile's been just a phenomenal growth driver for us," Wehner said. "We didn't have a mobile business three years ago, and that's now three quarters of our ads revenue."

Daily average users came in at 968 million—besting Wall Street's expectations of about 960 million. Engagement, meanwhile, came in at more than 46 minutes-per-day on average across Facebook, Instagram, and its Messenger app, Wehner said.

A day earlier, social media competitor Twitter announced better-than-expected earnings, but warned user growth was slowing to a crawl. Facebook, on the other hand, has consistently posted strong gains in monthly and daily active user metrics.

Even though Facebook's revenue came in slightly below expectations when it last reported in April, it crushed Wall Street's user predictions, establishing a story of strong growth.

This large and growing user base is helping Facebook become the dominant platform for online discussions: "Facebook has clearly become the home for global conversations about things that people care about," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during the company's earnings call.

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Facebook also said Wednesday that it had only recorded $549 million in capital expenditures for the quarter, far short of the $702.6 million expected by analysts.

"We benefit from being in a great margin business with advertising, so we really think we're investing from a position of strength, but we've got a bunch of great investment opportunities going forward, so we are really investing in the business both in the near-, the medium- and the long-term," Wehner told CNBC. "We really like the investments that we're making."

Expenses in total came in at $2.77 billion, up 82 percent from the same period last year.

Looking ahead, Wehner said the company expects it revenue growth rate to decline in part because of currency headwinds related to the strong dollar. He also said the company is narrowing guidance for its 2015 GAAP expense range from 55-65 percent to 55-60 percent.

Analysts and investors also focus on advertising revenue, which came in at $3.83 billion—higher than the $3.78 billion that StreetAccount said Wall Street expected. That figure represented a 43 percent gain over the comparable period in 2014.

The social media giant said its mobile advertising revenue represented about 76 percent of its total ad revenue for the quarter. During the same period last year, mobile ads only brought in about 62 percent of total advertising revenue, the company said.

"People are spending more time on their mobile devices and on Facebook apps," Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said on the call, saying that the company gets more than 1 out of every 5 minutes spent on smartphones in the U.S.

"We believe we have the best-performing mobile ad product in the market," she added.

Facebook said its average revenue per user (ARPU) was $2.76, with an advertising ARPU of $2.61. Both figures beat Wall Street expectations of $2.70 and $2.53, respectively.

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Other areas of interest are Facebook's video initiatives and the status of its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms.

"It's making a real contribution on both engagement and revenue on the quarter," Wehner said of video, explaining that the company had not broken out specific numbers on the subject. "The autoplay video product has been great for engagement, we're seeing people engage with billions of videos each day and that's growing."

As for Instagram, Wehner said the company is focusing on user growth, which he said has now topped 300 million users. Still, he said, "it's going to take some time before Instagram makes a significant contribution to our overall results."

Messenger has over 700 million users and WhatsApp has over 800 million, Wehner told CNBC. "We think there's going to be a great opportunity on the business front as those scale, but the focus today is really on continuing to drive a great product and a great user experience," he said.

"Over the next few years, our main focus is on helping our existing communities and businesses reach their full potential," Zuckerberg said.

Facebook is also preparing for the future: The company said it spent $1.17 billion on research and development for the quarter—up from only $492 million in the year-ago period.

Oculus, which Facebook bought in 2014, "is going to be the best VR experience in the world when it launches, and I'm really excited for us to begin delivering on the promise of virtual reality," Zuckerberg said, later adding that he would not rule out an app store model for the product.