What scandals? Facebook appeared to be Teflon to a myriad of data privacy concerns that have surfaced in the last year when it reported its fourth quarter earnings on Wednesday afternoon, with the social network posting major user growth and record-setting quarterly revenue.
Facebook reported $16.9 billion in revenue — marking a 30 percent year-over-year increase and easily passing the company’s previous quarterly high by more than $3 billion — and topped analyst estimates of $16.4 billion in sales. The company also posted better-than-expected earnings of $2.38 per share, compared to analyst estimates of $2.19 EPS.
Perhaps most impressively for a company that already had more than 2 billion monthly users, Facebook increased both its monthly and daily active users by 9 percent each, with Facebook adding 30 million daily users to hit 1.52 billion DAUs overall. Notably, Facebook added 4 million daily users in Europe — after consecutive quarters of decreasing growth — and also added 1 million DAUs in the U.S. after growth had been static for the first three quarters of 2018. Those users are especially important to Facebook’s business, considering 74 percent of its quarterly revenue stemmed from North America and Europe.
“Our community and business continue to grow,” chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. “We’ve fundamentally changed how we run our company to focus on the biggest social issues, and we’re investing more to build new and inspiring ways for people to connect.”
Facebook not only added more users, but also found a way to make more money off of them. The company’s average revenue per user of $7.37 increased 19 percent year-over-year and easily surpassed analyst estimates of $7.20. The bulk of Facebook’s ad revenue continues to come from mobile ads, which accounted for 93 percent of its total ad sales.
Wall Street was receptive to Facebook’s strong quarter, with Facebook shares increasing 7 percent in after-hours trading to $162 per share.
One stat showed how ubiquitous Facebook’s family of apps has become: the company estimated 2 billion people use at least one of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger each day on average.
Wednesday got off to an inauspicious start for Facebook, with it’s “Facebook Research” app, which paid users $20 per month to receive a bevy of information, including private messages and web search history, being removed from Apple’s App Store. A Facebook rep told TheWrap it was the company’s decision to pull the app down on Tuesday — a claim Apple pushed back against in its own statement, telling TheWrap it “revoked” Facebook’s enterprise developer certificate, which not only impacted the Research app but several internal Facebook apps. “Chaos” ensued for Facebook employees unable to use internal iOS apps, according to Business Insider.
The latest Apple-Facebook dustup didn’t impact the social network’s stock price, however, with Facebook shares increasing 4 percent during normal trading hours on Wednesday.
Facebook’s rocky 2018 continued during the fourth quarter, including another data privacy concern in a year full of them. The company admitted it gave major partners like Netflix and Spotify special access to private user messages in December, confirming key details in an illuminating report from The New York Times.
Facebook also removed dozens of inauthentic accounts stemming from Iran last month for spreading fake news. The purge was one of several from Facebook last year, with the company ultimately removing thousands of accounts for misinformation campaigns.
The company will hold a call to discuss its earnings at 5:00 p.m. ET.