Facebook Says Fast Spread of Coronavirus Hits Advertising Sales, Apps Usage Surges

Facebook Inc (FB) said the coronavirus outbreak is slowing down its advertising sales, even as usage of its social media platforms is growing fast following a lockdown in many countries around the world.

“We’ve seen a weakening in our ads business in countries taking aggressive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” the company said in a statement. “The usage growth from COVID-19 is unprecedented across the industry, and we are experiencing new records in usage almost every day.”

Wall Street analysts have a bullish call on Facebook shares. Thirty-five out of thirty-eight analysts have a Buy recommendation on the stock, making the consensus rating a Strong Buy. The average price target of $246.53 implies a potential gain of 58% in the coming 12 months.  (See Facebook’s stock analysis on TipRanks)

Facebook said that in countries hit hardest by the coronavirus, total messaging has grown more than 50% over the last month. In Italy, Facebook has seen a 70% increase in time spent across its apps, and views on Instagram and Facebook Live have doubled in a week.

Group calling with three or more participants increased by over 1,000% in Italy in the last month, the company said.

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