Facebook hammered as user growth cools

Facebook shares sink 8% as Q2 revenue and user growth misses analyst estimates

Facebook stock dives nearly 20% on warning of slow revenue growth

Rahul Shah, chief executive officer at Ideal Asset Management in NY, a Facebook shareholder, said executives were trying to reset expectations about growth but the outlook caught Wall Street by surprise.

More disconcertingly for analysts and investors, though, company officials warned on the call that its annual growth rate would decline by the high single digits, percentage wise, in the second half of the year. Its $1.74 earnings per share beat expectations of $1.72. In after-hours trading, its share price fell as low as 24 per cent.

The unwanted media attention Facebook received for its part in the Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal has spilled into the platform's dissemination of fake news, and Zuckerberg felt compelled to apologize for his company's lack of professionalism and failure to maintain consumer confidence.

Facebook had already warned investors ahead of the market opening that they should expect a significant decline in growth rate, with users in Europe falling from 282 million to 279 million. The data released by Facebook in the Q2 2018 earnings call indicates that even though revenue increased 42 percent to $13.2 billion, it was still lesser than the Wall Street estimates of $13.3 billion.

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Now we have real-life advertising from Facebook saying it's concerned, and looking after our privacy.

Then, founder-CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his management team have faced aggressive questions recently about how a content company like InfoWars, which has profited by spreading demonstrably false theories, behaves on the platform.

"They're talking about currency headwinds, but more we think it's due to slower user growth given GDPR and more focus on privacy", Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi said. For example, Google was able to wow investors this quarter even though the recent European Union fine destroyed operating margins, dropping them from 24% to 9% for Q2 2018.

As for Facebook, it actually made money in the quarter, just not enough to appease Wall Street.

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The company also said that revenue growth from emerging markets and the company's Instagram app, which has been less affected by privacy concerns, would not be enough to fix the damage.

Shares in Facebook plummeted 19 percent to close at $176.26 Thursday, wiping out $100 billion.

Facebook also surprisingly missed on advertising revenue projections, reached $13.04 billion compared with the StreetAccount and FactSet estimate of $13.16 billion.

Shares in Alphabet were unchanged while those in Apple and Netflix slipped just a third of a percent.

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Some investors were also dismayed with Facebook's revelation about Instagram Stories, which allow users to post videos or photos that disappear after a day.

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