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Facebook smashes estimates to post blockbuster first-quarter earnings

Facebook Inc's quarterly revenue rose more than 50 percent, handily beating Wall Street expectations as its wildly popular mobile app and a push into live video lured new advertisers and encouraged existing ones to boost spending.

The company's shares rose 9.5 percent in after-hours trading on Wednesday to $118.39, setting it on track to open at a new high on Thursday, at nearly triple its initial public offering four years ago.

Facebook also announced it will create a new class of non-voting shares in a move aimed at letting Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg give away his wealth without relinquishing control of the social media juggernaut he founded.

The company plans to create a new class of non-voting shares, which would be given as a dividend to existing shareholders. That would allow Zuckerberg, who wants to give away 99 percent of his wealth, to sell non-voting stock to fund philanthropy and keep the voting stock that assures his control.

Alphabet Inc passed a similar proposal in 2014 that ensured its founders' control by creating new non-voting shares.

Some 1.65 billion people used Facebook monthly as of March 31, up from 1.44 billion a year earlier. Zuckerberg said users were spending more than 50 minutes per day on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, a huge amount of time given the millions of apps available to users.

Advertisers are shifting money from television to web and mobile platforms, and Facebook is one of the biggest beneficiaries. It faces fierce competition in the mobile video market, where rivals Snapchat and YouTube also garner billions of video views every day.

Facebook recently expanded its live video product, rolling out several new features and making it more prominent on the app to encourage users to create videos and share them. The quarterly results showed success attracting advertisers with the move, and the company was able to expand its operating profit margin to 55 percent from 52 percent a year earlier.

"The company consistently 'warns' about higher spending, but they consistently manage their spending to deliver earnings upside. They're an impressive company, and they leave very little room for criticism," said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, who called the operating margin a good surprise.

Facebook did not offer details on sales of its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, but emphasized that it was early days and said that sales would not significantly impact 2016 revenue.

The results come after disappointments for investors from several major Silicon Valley firms.

"After Intel and IBM last week, and then Twitter and Apple yesterday, this is by far the best number I’ve seen in technology," said Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Company which owns about $40 million worth of Facebook shares, commenting specifically about Facebook ad revenue.

Facebook has not begun advertising on some of its most popular apps. "They haven't yet turned on the monetization spigot for Messenger or WhatsApp, so there should be significant headroom still," said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.

The company's net income attributable to common shareholders nearly tripled to $1.51 billion, or 52 cents per share, in the first quarter from $509 million, or 18 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 77 cents per share, beating Wall Street's 62-cent consensus.

Total revenue rose to $5.38 billion from $3.54 billion, with ad revenue increasing 56.8 percent to $5.20 billion. Mobile ad revenue accounted for about 82 percent of total ad revenue, compared with about 73 percent a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected revenue of $5.26 billion.

If the stock proposal is approved - and Zuckerberg has a majority of voting stock - the company will effectively carry out a 3-for-1 stock split, issuing two shares of non-voting Class C capital stock as a one-time stock dividend for each share of Class A and Class B common stock.

Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced last year that they would give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares to fund charitable endeavors.

Investors said they were not concerned that Zuckerberg would have increasing control, pointing to the company's consistent ability to grow and exceed expectations.

"I honestly don't think anyone cares if he has more power, since he's done everything right since they went public," said Pachter.

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Now students can even swipe right to find a job: LinkedIn launches ‘Tinder for graduates' to match them with employers

A new app suggests finding a job after graduation might be as simple as finding a date – you just have to swipe left or right.
 

LinkedIn is taking the guesswork out for college students by giving them career advice based on their school, major and graduation year.
 

And similar to how Tinder shows different dating profiles, 'LinkedIn Students' displays different job and internship opportunities based on a student's achievements and criteria.

 

Since inception, LinkedIn has targeted professionals and those that already have a few bullets under the 'job experience' section of their resume.

 

But LinkedIn claims there are 40 million students currently active on the social network, which is also the fasted growing demographic on the site.
 

'Today, LinkedIn unveils the first-of-its-kind LinkedIn Students app available for iOS and Android, tailored specifically for soon-to-be college graduates looking to answer these very questions,' said Ada Yu, a product manager at Linkedin, in a recent blog post.'Using insights from LinkedIn's database of over 400 million professionals, the brand new app helps you discover jobs that are a best fit for graduates with your major, companies that tend to hire from your school and the careers paths of recent alumni with similar degrees.'
 

Students begin their journey to finding the perfect career by completing the authentication process via their existing LinkedIn account or entering their name, school, major and anticipated graduation date in the new app.
 

And just as you would see tailored romantic matches in Tinder, LinkedIn Students will show users related recommendations for jobs and internships.

 

LinkedIn Students also uses the same display method – cards that you swipe left for 'no' or right for 'yes'.

 

The first card highlights opportunities you may find interesting – based on your major.

 

But if you plan on pursuing a career outside of that major, the app will show you other areas that could be suitable based on your experience.

 

Tapping on the opportunity will bring up more details about the median salary, specific role that is available and the firm.

 

There are also cards that display companies and alumni to connect with, which aims to help students create a network of peers on the site.

 

Users can 'star' to save it for later and there is also a search option that allows students to find specific roles that may not have crossed their path yet.

 

There is also an 'extra credit' section that allows students to add their accomplishments – similar to filling in a resume.

 

The professional networking site plans to partner with schools and their own job boards and is currently working with a handful of schools.

 

Fortune reported that LinkedIn opened the app up to 1,500 students from 300 colleges in the US a few months ago.

 

The feedback has been 'positive' with some users calling it a 'snackable approach' and just as easy as Tinder. 

 

LinkedIn Students is on both iOS and Android, but currently only open in the US for now. 

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