February 2, 2018

Quarterly report: Facebook exceeds on earnings, under-delivers on engagement

Facebook meets quarterly earnings expectations, but sees a 5% drop in engagement due to its long-term user retention strategy.

Yesterday was a big ol’ day for earnings calls: Apple reported record revenue (buoyed by $1k iPhone X sales), Microsoft beat expectations thanks to the cloud, and Alibaba fell short of analysts’ expectations despite hefty growth.

But the most interesting news of the day came from Facebook.

The social media behemoth managed to top revenue expectations in Q4, while simultaneously reporting a 5% drop in the amount of overall time users spend on the platform (that’s 50m hours per day).

Financial game: strong

At $12.97B, Facebook’s Q4 revenue was up 47% year-over-year (they were at $8.8B in Q4 ‘16). This handily outpaced Wall Street’s $12.55B projection, and led to a 5% stock spike in after-hours trading.

This also marks the company’s 11th consecutive quarter beating revenue expectations, largely thanks to gains in mobile, which made up 89% of all ad sales.

User stats: meh

On the flip side, recent changes to Facebook’s news feed seem to have caused a dip in the amount of time users are spending on the platform — to the tune of 50m hours per day. That’s about 2 minutes per day, per user.

In an investor call, Zuck brushed this off as a short-term loss in the quest for  more “meaningful interactions” in the long term.

According to Forbes, Facebook’s year-over-year user growth, at 14%, is the “slowest rate of daily active user growth on record.” And in the US and Canada, total daily users fell by nearly 700k.

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