Facebook cites mobile growth as it posts increased sales, profit in Q1

CEO Zuckerberg says first quarter results indicate 'a lot of progress in the first few months of the year'

Facebook posted a revenue increase of 38% in the first quarter that was bolstered by broad engagement across the site, the company reported Wednesday.

Revenue for the social networking company increased to $1.46 billion for the quarter ended March 31, up 38% from $1.06 billion from the same period last year.

The company's advertising revenue was $1.25 billion, representing 85% of Facebook's total sales and a 43% increase from 2012's first quarter, the company said. Mobile advertising revenue constituted 30% of the company's total ad revenue.

Facebook posted net income of $219 million for the quarter, up 7% from the year-ago quarter. The company's net earnings per share were 9 cents, less than the consensus expectations of 13 cents in a poll of analysts by Thomson Financial.

"We've made a lot of progress in the first few months of the year," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an earnings announcement, also citing "strong growth and engagement across our community."

Facebook's daily active users were 665 million for the quarter, 26% more than last year. Monthly active users increased by 23% to 1.11 billion, the company said.

On mobile, monthly active users increased by 54% to 751 million. Facebook did not disclose numbers for mobile daily active users.

The mobile ad revenue gains Facebook reported Wednesday were on par with the gains it reported in 2012's fourth quarter, when its mobile ad revenue as a percentage of total ad revenue jumped from 14% in the third quarter to 23% in the fourth quarter.

Monetizing its services on mobile devices as more users migrate away from the desktop and onto their smartphone and tablets is one of Facebook's biggest challenges today.

In January, the company reported during its fourth-quarter earnings call that its mobile daily active users had exceeded its daily active users on the Web for the first time ever.

Facebook only first rolled out mobile ads last year.

In a major move to boost its presence on mobile, Facebook last month released Home, a software product designed to put the social network front and center on certain Android-based smartphones.

But the reception for Home has so far been mixed. The product has reached more than 500,000 downloads from the Google Play Store, but with less than 15,000 reviews, it currently holds a rating of two stars out of five.

The software is currently available on several different Samsung and HTC smartphones such as the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S III.

The company said in January that building new "mobile experiences" would be a focus for Facebook in 2013.

Facebook went public in May 2012.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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