Facebook beat analysts estimations of their quarter four earnings, but shares still took a beating this morning. We take a lok at the plausible explanations for the reaction.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) earnings beat investors’ expectations when they were released on Wednesday after the market closed. Despite the earnings impressive outlook, on both revenue and earnings per share, the company’s shares were down by more than 3% in trading on Friday morning. What in the report led investors to reject the stock?
A report from Evercore research puts the blame down to a reduced margin outlook, and rationalizing the expectation of growth in revenue from the company’s newer ad formats including Facebook Gifts and the Facebook ad exchange. Facebook is still expected to grow, but that growth is not expected to come quickly in the year ahead.
Another problem with the earnings report was the lack of substantial growth in the company’s mobile revenue. Facebook needs to monetize its mobile service as customers increasingly move to the social network on mobile devices, cannibalizing revenue from desktop. The firm has simply not done enough in that arena to warrant the growth in value in the first weeks of 2013, and there has been a pull back from investors.
Other analysts weighed in on the company’s results today. Most of today’s reports have concentrated on low expectations for margins, lower than hoped mobile growth, and high expectation in the first month of 2013, to explain the loss in value for shares in trading this morning.
In essence Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) did not have a bad earnings report, it simply failed to show that it could grow its earnings substantially in the year ahead. Most reports maintained the price target and ratings of the company. The Evercore research report, authored by Ken Sena and Andrew MacNellis, maintained an equal weight rating and a price target of $32 per share.
The report analyzes the firm’s ad revenues, which are recorded globally, and asserts that growth in US revenues were lackluster. Most of the company’s 22% quarter on quarter growth in ad revenue came from international sources, indicating a slackening growth in the United States.
Another negative factor from the report is the flattening of revenue from payments. That slackening was expected, but Facebook thought it necessary to warn investors about headwinds in that area of its business. That warning might represent an expectation that revenues from payments, mostly from gaming, will decrease in the year ahead.
The negatives in the earnings report are expected to be temporary, however. The analysts expect Facebook to increase monetization from its mobile services, and continue to gain on desktop advertising in the year ahead. The problem with the company’s fourth quarter result was that none of these things seem to be happening quickly enough. Facebook is a long term invesment, not one that should be expected to pay off any time soon.
The message of this report is simple. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is performing well, and its mobile ambitions are looking achievable, but the results of a move to mobile are still not clear, and the company’s new advertising formats have not proven themselves. Facebook’s investors will have to sit and wait.