Facebook shares soar as mobile drives big jump in ad sales

Wed Jan 27, 2016 7:28pm EST
 
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By Yasmeen Abutaleb and Abhirup Roy

(Reuters) - Facebook Inc smashed investors' expectations with a 52-percent jump in quarterly revenue as it sold more ads targeted at a fast-growing number of mobile users, sending its shares sharply higher after hours.

The world's biggest online social network bucked the trend of underwhelming tech results from Apple Inc and eBay Inc, in the face of economic uncertainty around the world and a strong U.S. dollar depressing the value of overseas sales.

"It's phenomenal at these (currency headwind) levels that they're accelerating to that level of growth," said Rob Sanderson, an analyst at MKM Partners.

Facebook's dominance in mobile advertising helped to allay Wall Street concerns over its heavy investments in messaging service WhatsApp and virtual reality unit Oculus, which have not yet generated profits.

"I don't think there's going to be too many people crying for them to start monetizing other properties anytime soon because the core business is so strong," said Sanderson.

Facebook shares rose almost 12 percent in after-hours trading to $105.32.

They were helped by Chief Financial Officer David Wehner's comment on a call with analysts that he expected operating expenses to increase by 30 to 40 percent over the course of the year, a slower clip than last year.

Total revenue rose to $5.84 billion from $3.85 billion a year earlier, with ad revenue increasing 56.8 percent to $5.64 billion in the holiday shopping period, when spending on advertising typically spikes.   Continued...

 
A Facebook logo is displayed on the side of a tour bus in New York's financial district July 28, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid