The Washington Post

Mobile ads help grow Facebook’s first quarter revenue

A year ago, Facebook was just testing the waters of mobile advertising, causing plenty of headaches for investors ahead of its massive initial public offering. It has since eased those worries.

On Wednesday, the world’s biggest social networking company said nearly a third of its advertising revenue came from mobile in the first three months of the year, helping to push total revenue up 38 percent to surpass Wall Street’s expectations.

Facebook said Wednesday that its net income was $219 million, or 9 cents per share, in the ­January-March period. That’s up from $205 million, or 9 cents per share, in the same period a year ago when the company was still private. Revenue grew to $1.46 billion from $1.06 billion, above analysts’ expectations of $1.44 billion.

Excluding special items, mainly related to stock compensation expenses, Facebook earned 12 cents per share, matching the average of analyst expectations, according to FactSet.

Facebook said mobile advertising revenue was 30 percent of its total ad revenue, amounting to $375 million. That’s up from 23 percent, or $306 million, in the fourth quarter.

Investors had been worried about Facebook’s ability to grow mobile revenue since before its initial public offering nearly a year ago. The number of people who access Facebook on smartphones and tablet computers is growing quickly, but Facebook didn’t begin showing ads to mobile users until last year.

Facebook’s mobile expansion impressed Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia. “They are making the transition to mobile faster than anyone anticipated,” he said.

Bhatia said Facebook will fare even better on mobile devices once Facebook firms up its plan to make money from the growing audience checking into Instagram, a photo-sharing service that the company bought last year for $521 million.

The company also grew its user base during the quarter. This has been an area of some concern to investors amid chatter of “Facebook fatigue,” especially among younger users, surfacing in recent months. But Facebook said its monthly user base grew to 1.11 billion accounts as of the end of March, up 5 percent from 1.06 billion at the end of December.

The number of users who access Facebook every day, on average, grew 8 percent to 665 million in March, from 618 million in December.

(Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)

— Associated Press



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