Mobile users fuel Facebook’s growth. Big spending eats up profits

April 22, 2015, 10:07 PM UTC
Inside The F8 Facebook Developers Conference
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., speaks during the Facebook F8 Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. Zuckerberg plans to unveil tools that let application makers reach the social network's audience while helping the company boost revenue. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Users increasingly using Facebook on their mobile devices helped to lift the company’s first-quarter revenue 42%, but even that fell short of Wall Street lofty expectations. Here are the key points from Wednesday’s earnings release.

What you need to know: Facebook posted first-quarter sales of $3.54 billion, up from $2.5 billion a year ago. Mobile ad sales again accounted for a large chunk of the social networking giant’s overall revenue as more people using mobile devices flocked to the service.

Despite that, Facebook’s profits dipped 20% to $512 million, or 18 cents per share. The company blamed the decline on a 83% increase in spending during the first quarter.

While most companies would be happy with 40% revenue growth, Facebook still managed to disappoint analysts who had predicted $3.56 billion in quarterly sales, according to Thomson Reuters. The company’s overall revenue growth is decelerating with growth in the previous quarter coming in at 49% and 59% in the quarter before that one.

Facebook (FB) shares dipped more than 2% in after-hours trading after rising slightly during the afternoon. The company’s stock has gained 8.5% on the year.

In a brief statement included with the earnings release, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the company’s first quarter “a strong start to the year.”

The big number: Increasing mobile users has been driving Facebook’s rapid revenue growth over the past year, and the first quarter continued the trend with the number of mobile daily active users (DAUs) growing 31% year-over-year. Meanwhile, mobile monthly active users (MAUs) grew by 24% year-over-year.

That mobile user growth helped to lift mobile ad sales, which accounted for 73% of Facebook’s ad revenue in the first quarter. Mobile ad sales accounted for 59% of overall ad revenue during the same quarter last year and 69% during the preceding quarter.

Counting both mobile and web, DAUs increased 17% in the quarter while MAUs for the same overall category rose 13%.

What you might have missed: Facebook became the latest company to cite the strong U.S. dollar for having a negative impact on sales. If not for money lost from foreign exchange rates, Facebook’s revenue would have increased 49% in the first quarter, the company said.

For more on Facebook, watch this Fortune video:

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