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You could almost feel the tension crackling in the air before Facebook reported its quarterly earnings late Wednesday. Would the web giant beat Wall Street’s estimates, or would it miss them by a mile, the way Apple did? Or would it meet them, but tell analysts to expect slower growth in the future, the way Twitter did?
This wasn’t just an academic question. Apple lost $45 billion in market value after it reported lower than expected earnings and revenue, because its results raised questions about its future growth (the only thing that investors really care about). And while it was only a fraction of the dollar value of Apple’s loss, Twitter’s stock dropped by 16% after it said its revenue won’t grow as much as analysts expected.
So then what did Facebook do? It pretty much blew the doors off, as money managers like to say. The company’s quarterly profit came in at $1.5 billion—three times what it made in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue grew by more than 50%, which for a company with almost $20 billion in annual sales is a fairly impressive feat.
The number of daily and monthly active users of the site also continues to grow. Not that long ago, the company celebrated hitting one billion monthly users—it now has about 50% more than that using the site every month, and over a billion using it every day.
In case anyone had lost track, CEO Mark Zuckerberg also reminded everyone of who is in charge at Facebook by announcing that the company will be introducing a new class of shares. This will make it easy for him to follow through on his commitment to give away the bulk of his wealth to charity without losing control.
A note to shareholders about the new class of shares went to great lengths to talk about how investors could vote for or against the changes—and then in a footnote pointed out that since Zuckerberg controls a majority of the votes, the wishes of other shareholders are effectively meaningless. But hey, look at those earnings!