In late June, the company announced that it had reached 2 billion users, up from the 1.94 billion users it reported at the end of the first quarter. In addition, Facebook's Instagram photo-sharing app is successfully drawing investors' eyes away from Snap Inc. (SNAP - Get Report) and presenting more ad revenue opportunities for the company as its main platform's ad load reaches maxes out.
TheStreet will be hosting a live blog analyzing Facebook's earnings report after the close on Wednesday. Please check our home page for more details.
The tech giant's stock has reflected these positive developments, with shares climbing 43.75% to $165.40 year-to-date. Analysts expect Facebook to report GAAP (Facebook no longer reports non-GAAP) earnings of $1.12 per share, up from 97 cents in the year ago period. Revenue is expected to come in at $9.2 billion, a healthy increase for the $6.4 billion reported in the 2016 second quarter.
Evan Spiegel reportedly turned down a $3 billion buyout offer from Mark Zuckerberg in 2013.
Facebook launched Instagram Stories in August 2016, about three years after Snapchat first launched the feature on its own app as a way to let users post a series of photos or videos that will stay up for 24 hours before disappearing. By April 2017, Instagram Stories passed Snapchat in daily users after hitting 200 million. As of June, Instagram Stories had 250 million daily users, while Snapchat reported 166 million daily users in May. In other words, Instagram Stories is adding about 25 million users per month right now and currently boasts more than double the users on Snapchat Stories.
Instagram Stories is huge for Facebook because it presents a big ad revenue opportunity for the company after its CFO David Wehner has been warning since late 2016 that ad revenue would drop "meaningfully" in 2017 due to maxing on ad load on its main platform. In the first quarter earnings call, he noted that ad loads would "play a less significant factor in driving revenue growth after mid-2017."
In late June, Facebook's global head of sales Carolyn Everson told CNBC that a third of the most viewed stories on Instagram are businesses and one million are advertisers. "We think Stories is also another format that not only consumers but advertisers use," she said. "You are going to see Stories in a lot of different platforms." A few weeks later, CEO of advertising company WPP Martin Sorrell told CNBC that attendees at the app developers' conference on the West Coast all said that Facebook was successfully copying Snap.
In more bad news for Snap, Instagram announced in July that it will allow trial periods for advertisers to test new ad products or credits to cover ad productions costs in a move meant to lure advertisers away from Snap. Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak noted that investors were right to be wary of Facebook coming after Snap. "We believe Instagram is likely to be more disruptive than previously expected as our industry conversations indicate that Instagram is giving advertisers sponsored lenses for free," he wrote in a note.
Facebook shares rose 0.9% to $166.70 on Wednesday.
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