Mixed Earnings Report From Facebook: Growth vs. Expenses

April 22, 2015 by Jon C. Ogg

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) reported its first-quarter results after the close of trading on Wednesday. The leader of social media posted $0.42 in adjusted earnings per share and showed that revenue rose 42% to $3.54 billion. Thomson Reuters had its consensus estimates set at $0.40 per share and revenue of $3.56 billion. Facebook’s non-GAAP operating margin fell to 52% in the first quarter from the 57% reported a year ago.

As 24/7 Wall St. noted in the full earnings preview, Mark Zuckerberg and his team were in a position where Facebook almost certainly had to beat earnings and revenues estimates and offer solid guidance ahead.

Facebook ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $12.41 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2015. Free cash flow was $1.2 billion for the first quarter of 2015. The sample data provided was as follows:

  • Daily active users: 936 million on average for March 2015, up 17% year-over-year.
  • Mobile Daily active users: 798 million on average for March 2015, up 31% year-over-year.
  • Monthly active users: 1.44 billion as of March 31, 2015, up 13% year-over-year.
  • Mobile Monthly active users: 1.25 billion as of March 31, 2015, up 24% year-over-year.
  • Revenue from advertising was $3.32 billion, a 46% increase from the same quarter last year.
  • Mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 73% of advertising revenue, up from approximately 59% a year ago.
  • Payments and other fees revenue was $226 million, a 5% decrease from a year ago.
  • GAAP income tax expense for the first quarter of 2015 was $420 million, representing a 45% effective tax rate. Non-GAAP effective tax rate would have been approximately 35%.
  • Non-GAAP costs and expenses were up 57% to $1.70 billion in the first quarter; GAAP costs and expenses for the first quarter of 2015 were up 83% to $2.61 billion.

We did not see formal guidance, so that may be in the conference call. The Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for the second quarter and the fiscal year are as follows:

  • Second quarter 2015: $0.47 EPS and $4.02 billion in revenue
  • Full year 2015: $1.97 EPS and $17.09 billion in revenue

Ahead of the report, Deutsche Bank, Oppenheimer, Cowen and Credit Suisse had all been very positive on earnings.

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Facebook shares closed up 1.2% at $84.63, and shares were indicated down about 0.6% after the closing bell. Until guidance is formalized, we would consider this report unfinished business. The social media’s 52-week range is $54.66 to $86.07, and the consensus analyst price target is $92.98 — while the highest analyst price target now is $107. Just keep in mind that Facebook’s market cap is about $234 billion.