Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) released first quarter earnings for 2015 on April 22. The social media giant missed revenue estimates for the first time, pointing to strong foreign exchange headwinds.
Highlights of the earnings report include revenue of $3.543 billion, missing the estimate of $3.56 billion but still posting a 42% year-over-year increase. Facebook reports that barring all foreign exchange headwinds; revenue would have increased 55% from the same quarter last year. Advertising revenue increased 46% year-over-year and mobile advertising revenue represented an overwhelming 73% of total advertising revenue. In short, Facebook is becoming an advertising powerhouse. Facebook posted non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.42 for the quarter, beating estimates of $0.40 and up from $0.35 in the same quarter of last year.
User growth impressed analysts as well. Facebook’s daily active users, or DAUs, increased 17% year-over-year to 936 million for the month of March. DAUs on Facebook mobile increased 31% year-over-year for March. This growth is impressive for a social network that is already so omnipresent. On the earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg commented that more than 1.4 billion people use Facebook, 800 million people use WhatsApp, and 300 million people use Instagram.
Instagram, a Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform, experienced significant growth in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The photo-sharing platform now has over 200 million DAUs and will continue to increase advertising efforts on the platform. WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging application, began offering voice over IP calls allowing users to call friends around the word, free of charge.
Analysts were eager to weigh in on Facebook following the report, with the majority offering bullish ratings.
On April 23, analyst Michael Graham of Canaccord Genuity reiterated a Buy rating on Facebook with a $90 price target. The analyst commented that Facebook’s earnings report demonstrated the company’s “well-rounded growth story.” Graham believes that Facebook will continue to garner momentum this year driven by “ad pricing, ad product mix, and monetization of incremental properties (Instagram, Messenger, etc).” However, the analyst lowered his 2015 revenue from $17.64 billion to $16.95 billion and lowered his 2015 EPS estimate from $1.98 to $1.94. Graham noted, “The already-high profitability of [Facebook] may limit the ability for EPS growth to outpace revenue growth.”
Michael Graham has rated Facebook 9 times since September 2013, earning an 89% success rate recommending the stock with a +22.5% average return per Facebook recommendation. Overall, Graham has a 64% success rate recommending stocks with a +19.1% average return per recommendation.
Separately on April 23, analyst Arvind Bhatia of Sterne Agee reiterated a Buy rating on Facebook and raised his price target from $85 to $92. Bhatia commented that Facebook’s earnings were “essentially in line” with estimates but “user metrics, including reach and engagement, exceeded expectations.” Bhatia believes that foreign exchange headwinds were worse than anticipated and impeded revenue from meeting estimates. He continued, “Very few companies in the world today have the monetization opportunity ahead that Facebook does.” Massive user bases from Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram “provide a long runway for growth and multiple ways to monetize.”
Arvind Bhatia has rated Facebook 19 times since May 2012, earning an 89% success rate rating the stock with a +63.8% average return per Facebook recommendation. Overall, Bhatia has a 68% success rate recommending stocks with a +32% average return per recommendation.
On average, the top analyst rating for Facebook on TipRanks is Strong Buy.