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Facebook Earnings Meet but Stock Stumbles

Thursday, 26 Jul 2012 | 5:00 PM ET
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In its first earningsreport as a public company Facebook’s results were right on target with non-GAAP earnings per share of 12 cents.

Revenues came in stronger than Wall Street’s projections: $1.184 billion, higher than the $1.145 consensus expectations. Driven by stronger advertising results, that revenue number was up 32 percent over a year ago and 12 percent higher than the prior quarter.

(Click here to get the latest quotes for Facebook.)

As expected, Facebook’s mobile users continue to skyrocket: the company ended the quarter with 543 million mobile monthly active users, up 67 percent from a year ago.

I spoke to CFO David Ebersman about what kind of impact this growth is having on revenue—has Facebook started to make money on them yet? He wouldn’t give any specifics, just saying “we see mobile as a really big opportunity. The future ubiquity of personal computers that have tremendous functionality opens the opportunity to think about a market opportunity in the many billions of people.”

Ebersman stressed that it’s still “early days” for mobile revenue—the company just ramped up its launch of “sponsored stories” this quarter—saying “we’re pleased to have begun the process.” He acknowledged that this is a pressing issue: “In the short term clearly it creates the need for us to think about monetization differently than putting ads in the right hand column.” On the mobile platform, there isn’t a right hand column, they’re right in the middle of users news feeds. Ebersman addressed the question of whether those ads are invasive by saying “as long as the ads are social we think we can create an interesting opportunity for users.”

Facebook’s revenue from payments was flat. Considering the fact that Zynga’s earnings disappointed, some may be relieved that Facebook didn’t suffer more. But considering the changes Facebook made to improve payments revenue—enabling payments within apps, eliminating its clunky “credits” currency—it doesn’t look good that this segment that was Facebook’s fastest growing last quarter stagnated.

Flat payments revenue can also be attributed to mobile growth, says Ebersman, pointing to the new app center as a way to introduce Facebook users to new games and ultimately drive usage. Here again Ebersman says the mobile shift is an opportunity, saying they will try to “maximize the value of the gaming ecosystem.”

Investors are certainly hungry for additional details on mobile impact and projections for payments revenue going forward.

Another factor weighing on results: Capital expenditures grew 213 percent in the quarter to $413 million. We’ll hear more on the call about what was driving up those costs.

-By CNBC's Julia Boorstin
@JBoorstin

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.