Facebook's shares tumble as growth disappoints

Facebook shares fall as user growth slows

Facebook Stock Down 9% Following Q2 Revenue Miss, Slowing User Growth

Facebook has had a bruising few months, from ongoing fallout from the spread of Russian propaganda to the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and fierce controversy over whether fake news and disinformation should be allowed on the site.

Despite the rocky quarter, Facebook shares had hit an all-time high before Wednesday's earnings report and its quarterly revenue was still up 42 percent from this time previous year.

"We expect revenue growth rates to continue to decelerate in the second half", Facebook CFO Dave Wehner said during the quarterly conference call with investors.

Strong ad sales from Google, which is Facebook's main competitor for online advertising, had sent expectations for the social network's earnings up, along with its stock price.

Daily active users reached 1.47 billion, and once again, these numbers could haunt Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) as growth reached a low 1.44 percent compared to Q1's 3.42 percent. On today's call, however, Facebook executives said they expect revenue growth compared to past year to be lower especially as we get into the rest of 2018.

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Revenue fell a little short of estimates - $13.23 billion, compared to the Thomson Reuters estimate of $13.36 billion.

The plunge came after Facebook executives announced that the company expects a significant slowdown in its revenue growth in the years ahead.

Facebook shares took a hit Wednesday after the world's biggest social network reported weaker-than-expected user growth in the first full quarter since being rocked by a series of scandals on data privacy.

Total expenses in the second quarter surged to $US7.4 billion, up 50 per cent compared with a year ago. However, growth was flat in the U.S. and Europe, the company's largest advertising markets. And the chief financial officer, David Wehner, said revenue growth would substantially decline for the rest of the year, partly because Facebook planned to give people more options with their privacy settings, including letting them limit the kinds of ads they saw. Given all the questions about the misuse of the platform, "to explain that there are a couple million people who chose not to continue using Facebook is unsurprising", said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research. It reported 2.23 billion monthly active users and 1.47 billion daily active users, which were both up 11 percent year-over-year but narrowly missed estimates. Advertising systems on WhatsApp and Messenger remain in the trial phase.

Facebook suffered a blow in China on Wednesday when regulators there withdrew their approval of a company innovation hub to support local startups, the New York Times reported on Wednesday (local time), citing a person familiar with the matter.

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Analysts attributed the user growth shortfall largely to European privacy rules that went into effect in May.

Facebook said mobile made up 91 per cent of ad revenue in the recent period, compared with about 87 per cent a year earlier.

The shift in Facebook's business fortunes follows a series of crises that began in late 2016 with the revelations that it had become a prime distributor of misinformation.

One bright spot for Facebook has been Instagram, the photo-sharing app it bought for $1 billion in 2012.

Facebook's headcount increased 47% year-on-year, to 30,275 as of June 30, 2018.

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