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Saturday, October 25, 2014         

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Facebook shares sink to new low after 2Q results

By Barbara Ortutay

AP Technology Writer

POSTED:


NEW YORK >> Facebook's stock hit a new low Friday after it reported lukewarm second-quarter results and didn't give an outlook for the coming months.

The stock fell $2.88, or nearly 11 percent, to $23.97 in afternoon trading Friday, after earlier trading as low as $22.28.

Facebook Inc.'s initial public offering of stock priced at $38, and its low had been $25.52, hit on June 6. The stock is now about 37 percent below its IPO price.

Facebook issued its first financial report as a public company after the market closed Thursday. The company reported slightly stronger-than-expected revenue and a gain in user numbers, but investors weren't impressed.

Although revenue grew 32 percent in the second quarter, growth has slowed from earlier this year and from previous years. That's a concern for a newly public company. Investors are willing to value new companies highly, even if they are not making a profit, because they expect booming revenue.

Baird's Colin Sebastian also pointed out that the company is spending more on technology and hiring, driving up expenses.

But he's not overly concerned. He backed his "Outperform" rating for Facebook, saying advertising revenue was better than expected and the company is improving its ability to make money from users who access Facebook from apps on their phones and tablet computers.

Other analysts remained positive, too. Of 27 analysts available from FactSet, 15 have "Buy" ratings or equivalent, while just three are a "Sell." Analysts tend to have longer-term views of stocks than many day-to-day investors.

Mobile and users in developing countries are driving growth in active monthly users, Sebastian said. Facebook had 955 million active monthly users as of June 30, up 29 percent from a year ago.

"We don't view these results as dramatically good or bad," said Citi analyst Mark Mahaney. "Key questions remain: the future of Facebook mobile monetization and the future of Facebook user engagement."

Analysts also cautioned that the stock could be volatile because Facebook didn't offer investors and financial analysts its outlook for the rest of the year.

Overall the company reported a loss of $157 million, or 8 cents per share, in the April-June period, mainly because of compensation expenses it incurred when it paid $1.3 billion in restricted stock and related taxes for employees as part of the IPO. The loss compared with earnings of $240 million, or 11 cents per share, in the second quarter a year ago.

The company's adjusted earnings of $295 million, or 12 cents per share, matched Wall Street's expectations.

Facebook's revenue of $1.18 billion was slightly higher than the $1.16 billion expected by analysts surveyed by FactSet.






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