Facebook Sinks After Confirming Ad Growth To Slow Down "Meaningfully"

Update: If it was still a question in anyone's mind whether Facebook was really going to slow down ad revenue growth, it's not anymore. CFO Wehner was very clear in his comments.

Wehner is doubling down on the comments from last quarter that ad growth will come down "meaningfully.'' He's also maintaining the forecast of new spending of $7 billion to $7.5 billion this year, 50 percent more than last year.

 

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It seems the machines were unprepared to handle the 'truth' as Facebook reported GAAP earnings of $1.04, stating that it will no longer report non-GAAP or adjusted earnings. This was a big beat of the 87c GAAP expectation but confused some looking at non-GAAP numbers notably higher (at $1.12). The initial drop in the stock was quickly erased once humans read the report, but is fading back towards lows.

Earnings beat...

  • *FACEBOOK 1Q EPS $1.04, GAAP EST. 87C (Adjusted EPS EST. $1.12)

Revenues beat...sequential drop but YoY big rise

  • *FACEBOOK 1Q REV. $8.03B, EST. $7.83B

Active Users beat..

  • *FACEBOOK 1Q MONTHLY ACTIVE USERS 1.94B , EST. 1.91B
  • *FACEBOOK 1Q DAILY ACTIVE USERS 1.28B , EST. 1.26B

 

The stocks dipped and bounced...

 

Perhaps theone area to note is the sequential drop in ARPU...

 

And Expenses as a % of revenues are on the rise..

One of the big takeaways last quarter was how Facebook was going to be spending more this year to build out its future business and its server capacity. It's certainly been spending already this year - CAPEX was $1.27 billion in the first quarter alone.

Bloomberg's gerrit De Vynck summarizes what we have so far:

  • Overall, the quarter was another positive one for Facebook, with beats on revenue, new users and GAAP EPS.
  • Mobile ads continue their march to taking over Facebook, comprising 85% of advertising revenue.
  • We're still in the dark on how much exactly Instagram is contributing to those numbers because Facebook has again decided to not break out financials for the photo-sharing app.
  • COO Sheryl Sandberg says in an interview that the firestorm of bad press around the prevalence of fake news and violent live videos on Facebook didn't hurt the company's revenue. That's all well and good for investors, but doesn't mean the problems are going away.
  • Shares are waffling up and down but aren't departing more than a percentage point or more from Facebook's closing price of $151.80.

The stock has turned back lower but remains in a narrow range.

“A great quarter, but what comes next?” said Rob Sanderson, analyst at MKM Partners. “We’re just kind of in this wait-and-see mode in terms of the impact on the business. We don’t know how much ad load has driven growth.”

As Bloomberg's Sarah Frier notes, there are two big things investors will want to know about today on the call:

  • Facebook said it would stop increasing the frequency of ads in news feed, sometime in the middle of this year. How much damage will that do to revenue growth?
  • Facebook says this is another investment year. Any adjustment to their spending forecasts?

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