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Facebook will show a sharp rise in profit when it reports earnings Wednesday, Wall Street believes

  • Facebook is seen posting a sharp rise in profit when it releases financial results after the close of markets Wednesday.
  • Sales are seen jumping 43 percent year-over-year, driven by surging sales of digital video and display ads.
  • Investors want to hear more about ad growth on Instagram and a new plan to put ads in Facebook's messaging products.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook
Photo by Bloomberg
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook

Wall Street sees Facebook posting a higher quarterly profit when it releases financial results after the close of markets Wednesday, driven by surging sales of video and display ads.

The company is expected to report second-quarter profit of $1.13 per share, based on the average estimate of 35 analysts who rate its stock.

That's up from 97 cents per share a year earlier, according to the estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Revenue is seen rising to $9.2 billion, a jump of 43 percent year-over-year.

If Facebook hits those numbers, its revenue growth for the period will be twice that of Alphabet unit Google, its larger rival and primary competitor in the market for online advertising.

Both are trying to rapidly add more video content to take advantage of an explosion in spending on video ads.

The market for digital video (not including traditional TV ads) is forecast to rise 19 percent this year to $11.7 billion, according to data from the research firm eMarketer, cited in a May report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

That's the same ad revenue growth rate Google had in the second quarter, based on the results Alphabet released Monday.

Playing catch-up to YouTube

While Alphabet has a head start thanks to its YouTube video service, which now has 1.5 billion monthly users and dozens of its own original shows, Facebook is racing to catch up.

The company now has 2 billion monthly users and is adding workers with job titles more familiar to Hollywood than Silicon Valley.

Facebook is also in talks with entertainment and media companies to produce its own original video content.

The company's video push has not been without challenges -- some of which could prove expensive.

Facebook said during the quarter it would add 3,000 workers to help keep violent and offensive material off its site.

That announcement came after leaders in Europe threatened to punish internet companies that allowed terrorists to use their services to plan attacks.

And Wall Street analysts have been lowering their full-year, 2017 earnings estimates for the company, expecting higher costs for producing video content and building more data centers.

Facebook has already alerted analysts that some expenses will grow faster than revenue:

"We continue to expect that full-year 2017 capital expenditures will be in the range of $7 billion to $7.5 billion, which is up over 50 percent compared to last year," CFO David Wehner said on the company's first-quarter earnings call in May.

Instagram a new growth driver

Facebook is also beginning to place ads on its other web properties, including Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Facebook has been using Instagram to pummel smaller rival Snap, and the photo-sharing service CEO Mark Zuckerberg acquired for $1 billion in 2013 is expected to produce sales of $3.6 billion this year.

Facebook shares are up 41 percent this year, twice the gain of the broader market for tech shares, as measured by the Nasdaq Composite Index.