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Facebook Earnings Preview: All About Mobile

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Facebook (FB - Get Report) reports earnings after the close, and as the company continues its transition to mobile, Wall Street's eyes will be focused on whether it can keep up the trends of delivering mobile revenue.

Last quarter, mobile revenue accounted for 23% of advertising sales, and CFO David Ebersman told investors Facebook became a mobile company in 2012. "2012 was the year Facebook became a mobile company," Ebersman said in an interview with TheStreet. "Mobile provides a huge opportunity for Facebook, and we're working to make sure our ad products work well on mobile."

Shares of Facebook were falling 0.7% to $27.58 in afternoon trading.

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Youssef Squali believes that number is only going to increase, as more and more advertising money flows to devices like smartphones and tablets, where Facebook has an incredibly strong presence. Of its 1 billion-plus users, Facebook has more than 600 million of its users using its mobile apps, on devices like Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and iPad, and devices running Google's (GOOG - Get Report) Android operating system. "We believe Mobile revenue should remain healthy, accounting for ~27% of all ad revenue," Squali penned in the earnings preview. He rates shares "buy" with a $35 price target on Facebook.

Recent earnings from Yahoo! (YHOO - Get Report) and Google should bode well for Facebook domestically, Squali wrote in his report. Weakness may come from international locales, where pricing trends have stayed weak. The industry continues to expect pricing to strengthen in mobile, as evidenced by recent comments from Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer on Yahoo!'s earnings call.

Mayer noted the recent pricing weakness year-over-year is largely reflective of continued mobile weakness. "...[A]s it [mobile] becomes bigger and bigger, we ultimately aren't seeing what we really think the price ultimately will be from mobile ads. We think that they are every bit as effective as they are on the PC and we anticipate that pricing will eventually get us to that point."

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook is expected to earn 13 cents on a non-GAAP basis, with revenue coming in at $1.44 billion, according to analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Analysts surveyed by Estimize are a little more bullish, looking for 15 cents per share on $1.48 billion in sales.
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