NEW YORK (
reports its second-quarter results after market close, with all eyes on the company's mobile initiatives and investors eager to see whether social networking's around for the long haul.
Facebook has had its share of missteps in recent months, most notably its
in May. However, the largest issue facing the company is whether it can generate meaningful revenue from its mobile platforms, as more users gravitate towards smartphones and tablets.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster notes that mobile is a "wild card" for the second-quarter, as the company has just begun to monetize its 488 million mobile users, as of March 2012.
"During the Q2 earnings call, we believe management will likely be asked about the company's new mobile ad units," Munster wrote. "We note that, according to TBG Digital, clickthrough rates (CTRs) on ads in Facebook's mobile newsfeed are almost 2x as high as on the desktop newsfeed, thus early indications appear positive." He rates Facebook "overweight" with a $41 price target.
JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth is looking for an in-line quarter, as first-quarter issues hampering growth appear to have extended into the second quarter.
"We expect continued deceleration in revenue growth to be driven by the rapid shift in usage towards mobile as Facebook has specifically highlighted the trend of DAUs (daily active users) increasing more rapidly than the growth in ads delivered, with mobile cited as a primary factor," Anmuth wrote in his note. "In addition, we expect Facebook to see some softness in Europe and the mix shift of ads moving more toward geographies with lower pricing such as Asia and ROW (the rest of the world)."
The analyst is looking for earnings of 11 cents a share on $1.105 billion in revenue. Anmuth rates shares "overweight" with a $45 price target.
on Wednesday has also raised questions about Facebook's earnings report. The online gamer cut its full-year earnings guidance, citing "a more challenging environment on the Facebook web platform." It also mentioned delays in launching new games, and reduced expectations for
will be live-blogging Facebook's results at 3.45 PM ET:
JPMorgan's Anmuth notes that Zynga's results could lead to a downside risk in Facebook's second-quarter Payments revenues by as much as 25% to his $160 million to $170 million estimate. "Facebook could be offsetting some lost Zynga bookings with new games bookings from other developers, but we think this is unlikely to bridge the gap," Anmuth wrote. "Such a shortfall in Payments could result in 4-5% downside to our estimate of Facebook's overall 2Q12 revenue to around $1.06B."
There's also speculation about whether Facebook provides guidance for the third quarter, and perhaps the rest of the year.
Some analysts, including Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter, believe the company will provide guidance, while others, such as Stifel Nicolaus' Jordan Rohan are uncertain about outlook. "If the company chooses not to offer guidance, that may be taken negatively," Rohan said, in a client note.
Analysts polled by
expect the social networking giant to earn 12 cents per share on $1.146 billion in revenue.
Shares of Facebook are lower in Thursday trading, off 6.41% to $27.47.
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Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York