Facebook reports better than expected second-quarter results

Key Points
  • Facebook posted a profit of $1.99 cents per share, vs. an expected profit of $1.88 per share. 
  • The company said it recorded a $2 billion charge in the quarter tied to the FTC settlement. It previously set aside $3 billion.
Loup Ventures' Gene Munster on Facebook earnings

Facebook reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue on Wednesday as advertisers continued flocking to the site. Shares were up more than 1% in premarket trading on Thursday.

User growth at Facebook, which owns Instagram and WhatsApp, was in line with expectations.

  • Earnings: $1.99 cents per share vs. $1.88 per share, forecast by Refinitiv
  • Revenue: $16.9 billion, vs. $16.5 billion, forecast by Refinitiv
  • Daily active users: 1.59 billion, vs. 1.59 billion forecast by FactSet
  • Monthly active users: 2.41 billion, vs. 2.41 billion forecast by FactSet
  • Average revenue per user: $7.05 vs. $6.87 forecast by FactSet

On Wednesday, Facebook struck a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission following the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the data of 87 million Facebook users was improperly accessed. And late Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced a broad antitrust review of the dominant tech platforms.

"We believe that there needs to be a regulatory framework in place," said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the call with analysts after the report. "My broader concern is that if that doesn't get put in place, then frustration with the industry I think will continue to grow."

The company said it recorded a $2 billion charge in the quarter tied to the FTC settlement. It previously set aside $3 billion. As part of the agreement, Facebook is expanding its privacy program and enhancing board oversight.

"The privacy efforts do require significant investments obviously in compliance processes, people and technical infrastructure," Chief Financial Officer David Wehner said on the call with analysts. "One of the impacts that I'd point to is it's also a reallocation of resources around privacy so that will have an impact on our overall product development as well."

Facebook reports earnings beat at $1.99 per share, 1.59B daily active users

Facebook also announced that it was informed by the FTC in June that the agency had opened an antitrust investigation into the company.

The business continues to grow at a rapid clip. Revenue rose 28% compared to a year prior. The company lowered its capital expenditures forecast for 2019 to between $16 billion and $18 billion, down from its previous estimate of between $17 billion to $19 billion.

Facebook said it counts more than 2.7 billion monthly users across the its family of apps, up slightly compared to the previous quarter. Its user base in Europe remained flat from the prior quarter at 286 million daily active users.In the U.S. and Canada, users rose to 187 million from 186 million a quarter earlier. The company said average revenue per user increased 18% to $7.05 from $5.97 a year ago.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg is leading Facebook through a major transition from News Feed ads as it expands ad revenue from its newer Stories products. Already, Facebook says it has more than 500 million daily users for the Stories features across Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.

"We think the shift to Stories is a big opportunity for us and advertisers over time," Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said on the call with analysts. "I'll say one more thing which is that Stories don't monetize rights now at the same rate as News Feeds."

In a March memo, Zuckerberg wrote that the future of Facebook will be "private, encrypted services." The company is working to integrate the messaging functions of WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, and Zuckerberg said he expects "Messenger and WhatsApp to become the main ways people communicate on the Facebook network."

Facebook shares are up 56% in 2019 as of Wednesday's close.

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