Facebook's blockbuster IPO was, by most measurements, did not live up to expectations. Marred by NASDAQ trading glitches and accusations that Facebook and its investment bankers pulled a fast one on retail investors, the world's largest social network may have the dubious distinction of having one of the largest and at the same time most disappointing IPOs of all time.

Yesterday, Facebook had the opportunity to make amends by producing a strong second quarter earnings report. Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly of what it delivered.

The Good

Facebook reported revenue of $1.18bn, a 45% year-over-year increase in line with Wall Street estimates. On an adjusted basis, the company produced 12 cents per share in earnings, again in line with Wall Street's expectations. Monthly active users and daily active users stood at 955m and 552m, respectively, as of the end of the second quarter, an increase of 29% and 32% year-over-year.

While it is obviously well beyond the days of triple-digit growth, Facebook is still seeing growth of key metrics at clips many companies would be quite satisfied with.

The Bad

The bad news for Facebook is that it isn't most companies, and Wall Street wasn't satisfied with Facebook's Q2 results. Investors sent its shares down more than 10% in after-hours trading following an 8.5% drop during the day.

Facebook's IPO was one of the largest and most anticipated in history, and following the disappointment it produced, Facebook was hoping for evidence that Facebook still has an exciting story to tell investors. But investment bankers associated with Facebook's botched IPO, who may have set the expectations lower for Facebook's first quarterly report as a public company, simply didn't get numbers to do that.

Instead, they received an earnings report that largely supports the notion that Facebook doesn't have the type of growth in front of it that could justify the type of valuation the social network went public at. And there was little to spark excitement.

Facebook generated $992m in ad revenue last quarter. That's not enough to convince investors that Facebook has answered the ROI question to the satisfaction of advertisers. Payments revenue rose very modestly to $192m. While some believe payments are Facebook's big opportunity, they're not growing anywhere near fast enough to back up that notion.

The Ugly

Facebook's quarterly average revenue per user (ARPU) in Q2 was $1.21 on a global basis. As CNN's David Goldman points out, this isn't all that impressive. But it gets even worse when one considers that the vast majority of Facebook's users (just over 80%) are outside of the United States and Canada and more than half are outside the US, Canada and Europe.

In Asia and developing nations, which also happen to be where Facebook is seeing the greatest growth, quarterly ARPU is much, much lower -- well under a dollar per user.

Mobile also continues to be the thorn in Facebook's side. It represents a huge opportunity, but the company hasn't yet figured out how to capitalize on it. The number of monthly mobile users Facebook counts hit 543m in the second quarter, a 67% year-over-year gain.

While the company says it's making strides on mobile, it didn't break out mobile versus non-mobile revenue, a hint that it doesn't yet have anything worth sharing.

Patricio Robles

Published 27 July, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (3)


Tom Winnifrith

Results make earnings visibility even less certain. My $7.30 target price likely to be reduced:


about 6 years ago

James Perrin

James Perrin, Digital Communications Specialist at Feefo

Do you think that Facebook's monetisation will eventually impact on its usability? If so, this will surely be a turning point. If investors are not happy with their Q2 earnings, then various ways of making more money could seriously affect how the platform actually operates. As you've mentioned, users could be charged, or we may start seeing more sponsored comments, shares and status updates appearing in our news feeds. With pressure from investors, it will be really interesting to see what happens to Facebook. Nice article, thanks for the analysis.

about 6 years ago


Jill K

Facebook is well on its way to becoming worthless. Someone, in the myriad of investors and advisers, really should have seen this coming years ago.

about 6 years ago

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