Facebook Inc. (FB) shares rose the most in nearly three years Thursday after the social media giant's first quarter earnings showed little impact from its recent data scandals and suggested changes to its newsfeed haven't discouraged users from joining the platform.
Facebook, which takes nearly a fifth of global digital ad revenue, posted record sales of $11.97 billion over the first three months of the year, the company said after the close of trading Wednesday, and posted a bottom line of $1.69 a share that blasted Wall Street estimates.
Globally, the number of active users on the platform each month rose 13% from the same period last year to 2.2 billion while daily active users in Canada and the United States hit 185 million. The company also boosted the cash it can use for share buybacks by $9 billion, suggesting not only faith in its ad-driven business model but confidence that regulators won't stifle it with new data use restrictions.
"We think that ads is a great business model that is aligned with our mission," CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors on a conference call last night. "We want to build a service that can help connect everyone around the world, so we want to offer that service for free and have it be affordable, and that's completely aligned with what we're trying to do."
"I know that a lot of people have had questions about the business model, and this is something that I just think we at Facebook are very proud of," he added. "And we think that it is the right way to build a service that connects everyone around the world."
However, much of Facebook's stock decline can be attributed to the mid-March revelation that Cambridge Analytical, a political consultancy that worked on behalf of the election campaign of President Donald Trump, gained access to millions of Facebook users' data via an app designed by Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan.
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TheStreet's Eric Jhonsa, however, noted Wednesday that the tone of the investor update was far more focused on Facebook's business model going forward than it was on mea-cuplas for data mishaps of the past.
"Management got right out in front of it and it was music to investors ears as they said the right things to calm investors nerves and re-shift focus back on the strong fundamentals of the company," Jhonsa wrote. "We also want to call out that Facebook announced that its board has authorized a new $9 billion buyback program that is on top of the existing $6 billion program that is almost complete.
"This aggressive addition to the repurchase program is a strong signal that management views the stock's 9.5% year to date decline before the print as an opportunity to buy back shares at what they view as a discount."