Facebook keeps attracting digital ads, shares jump after hours

Inc reported better-than-expected profit on Wednesday, showing that digital advertisers were still flocking to spend money on the service in order to reach customers even after a series of high profile embarrassments for the world’s largest online social media network.

Investors have worried that Facebook’s pledge to invest heavily to improve its privacy and security standards would blunt the company’s growth, but its fourth-quarter results appeared to soothe those concerns, sending its stock price up more than 11 percent after .

“The worst is over for this social media giant,” said Haris Anwar, an analyst at Investing.com: “Its ad business and user engagement haven’t been affected despite all the negative blows of the past year.”

The company has struggled with scandals over improperly shared customer data and propaganda on its service that tarnished its image and made it the target of political scrutiny across the globe last year.

That has not significantly harmed advertising, where Facebook makes the vast majority of its revenue. Although ad prices have fallen, Facebook has been showing more , particularly on its Instagram app, as it finds users crave daily visual updates from friends, family and celebrities enough to sift past commercials and photo every few seconds.

The number of ad impressions across Facebook’s system accelerated each quarter last year compared to the prior year’s quarters, as Facebook moved more aggressively in generating revenue from Instagram after its initial caution on using that strategy, for fear of turning off users.

Total fourth-quarter revenue rose 30 percent to US$16.9 billion from US$12.97 billion, its slowest quarterly revenue growth in more than six years as a public company. It was, however, above analysts’ average estimate of US$16.4 billion.

Net income rose to US$6.88 billion, or US$2.38 per share, up from US$4.27 billion, or US$1.44 per share, a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected earnings of US$2.19 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

GRAPHIC-Facebook revenue: https://tmsnrt.rs/2HI8IC9

“These numbers are actually some of the most reassuring in its short history,” said George Salmon, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

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