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Facebook today reported earnings for its first fiscal quarter of 2020, including revenue of $17.74 billion and net income of $4.9 billion, compared to revenue of $15.1 billion and net income of $2.43 billion in Q1 2019. Year-over-year revenue is up 17%. Facebook earnings beat analyst estimates that predicted Facebook would earn $17.5 billion in revenue and report earnings per share of $1.74. Microsoft earnings also beat analysts’ estimates today, while Alphabet, which like Facebook draws the majority of its revenue from advertising, announced earnings above analysts’ estimates on Tuesday.
In a call with analysts after the close of markets today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “For the first time ever, there are now more than 3 billion people actively using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Messenger each month.” That’s up from 2.99 billion people March 31. Monthly use of the main Facebook app grew 10%, up from 2.38 billion in Q1 2019 to 2.6 billion. Daily active users are also up 11%.
Zuckerberg said Facebook expects to take a “meaningful economic hit” throughout the public health emergency, referred to advertising as a volatile industry sensitive to macroeconomic trends, and said he’s worried fallout from COVID-19 will be worse than some people are predicting. Zuckerberg believes the efficacy of shelter-in-place orders will largely determine the economic fallout from COVID-19, and he expressed concern that shelter-in-place orders are being lifted too soon in some areas.
“I worry that reopening certain places too quickly before infection rates have been reduced to very minimal levels will almost guarantee future outbreaks and worsen longer-term health and economic outcomes,” he said.
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Facebook reported that advertising revenue was flat in the first weeks of April, following a significant reduction in advertising and ad pricing at the end of March amid the economic downtown caused by COVID-19.
“After the initial steep decrease in advertising revenue in March, we have seen signs of stability reflected in the first three weeks of April, where advertising revenue has been approximately flat compared to the same period a year ago, down from the 17% year-over-year growth in the first quarter of 2020,” the company said in a statement reporting earning results. “The April trends reflect weakness across all of our user geographies as most of our major countries have had some sort of shelter-in-place guidelines in effect.”
In other activity brought on by COVID-19, the social media company said it plans to inform users when they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 misinformation. Facing competition from Houseparty and Zoom, whose usage rates have soared amid shelter-in-place orders, WhatsApp recently shared plans to expand video call participation capacity from four to eight people and Facebook launched Messenger Rooms for video calls with up to 50 users.
Facebook grew its headcount by 28% to 48,268 employees worldwide in Q1 2020. In response to COVID-19, Facebook expects to slow its headcount growth and construction activity in the year ahead. Due to economic uncertainty, Facebook told analysts executives will not provide specific revenue guidance on Q2 2020.
“We expect our business performance will be impacted by issues beyond our control, including the duration and efficacy of shelter-in-place orders, the effectiveness of economic stimuli around the world, and the fluctuation of currencies relative to the U.S. dollar,” Facebook CFO David Wehner said during the call.
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