Facebook earnings: 57 cents per share, vs expected 52 cents

Facebook the best minute and best dollar for advertisers: Sandberg
Facebook the best minute and best dollar for advertisers: Sandberg
Facebook's run not even close to over: Pro
Facebook's run not even close to over: Pro
Facebook shares pop on earnings beat
Facebook shares pop on earnings beat

Facebook posted quarterly results that topped analysts' expectations Wednesday, as ad revenue jumped and its user base continued to balloon.

The social media giant reported third-quarter earnings of 57 cents per share on $4.5 billion in revenue. Wall Street expected the company to deliver quarterly earnings per share of 52 cents on $4.37 billion in revenue, according to consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters.

Shares rose as much as 3 percent in extended trading, which would mark an all-time intraday high. (Click here for the latest stock quote.)

Monthly active users, or MAUs, rose 14 percent from the previous year to 1.55 billion, as of Sept. 30. Mobile MAUs came in at 1.39 billion, and both narrowly beat analysts' expectations, according to StreetAccount.

Daily active users also climbed 17 percent to 1.01 billion, beating the Street's expectation of 992 million. Nearly 900 million mobile users were active daily.

Advertising revenue — the vast majority of Facebook's sales — jumped 45 percent from the prior year to $4.3 billion. Mobile ad sales accounted for 78 percent of that, up from 66 percent in the prior year.

"We think we have the best mobile ad product in the market. We're able to target, we're able to measure. We have broad scale," Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, told CNBC.


In a conference call Wednesday, she pointed to advertising traction on photo-sharing app Instagram, which topped 400 million MAUs this year. Facebook is "really pleased with the marketer demand for Instagram ads," Sandberg said.

On the call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg highlighted progress in the company's video segment. He noted the platform now has about 8 billion daily video views.

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Why analysts like Facebook ahead of earnings

Facebook is inching closer to a $300 billion valuation, only 3 1/2 years since it went public. Its stock had languished below the IPO price of $38 per share for more than a year but has since rallied. Shares of Facebook have surged nearly 38 percent in the last 12 months.

"At this multiple, they're going to have to continue to put up above 32 to 33 percent year-over-year revenue growth. I think if they continue to do that, the EPS numbers basically don't matter for the foreseeable future," Leigh Drogen, CEO of financial estimates platform Estimize, told CNBC.

Last quarter, the social networking giant said it would increase investments in areas such as Messenger, WhatsApp and Oculus to boost advertising revenue from mobile and drive future growth.

Total non-GAAP expenses rose 51 percent to $2.09 billion in the third quarter.

Earlier this week, Facebook said it was testing an artificial intelligence (AI) feature that will allow it to answer questions about a photo, a feature aimed at helping blind people "see" images uploaded to the social network.

The company has been pushing hard to develop its AI capabilities — alongside Apple and Google — with the technology being seen as key for the future of these companies. Earlier this year, Facebook unveiled a technology called "Memory Networks," which allows a machine to perform sophisticated questioning and answering.

— CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Harriet Taylor, Arjun Kharpal and Reuters contributed to this report.