Facebook shares surge after social network's spectacular quarter

Shares of Facebook (FB) surged in early trading, hitting an all-time high, after Mark Zuckerberg's pioneering social network reported quarterly earning that exceeded even the most optimistic of projections thanks to its surging mobile advertising business.

Shares of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company hit $75.20 after opened for trading Thursday, continuing their rise after yesterday's earnings report. That's 96 percent higher than Facebook's $38.23 IPO debut in 2012, which at the time was interpreted as a failure.

In the quarter ended June 30, Facebook earned net income of $791 million, or 30 cents per share, more than double from $333 million, or 13 cents, a year earlier. Revenue rose 61 percent to $2.91 billion, topping analysts' expectations of $2.1 billion. Excluding one-time items, Facebook earned 42 cents a share, beating Wall Street forecasts of 32 cents.

Mobile advertising, a fast growing market that's closely watched by Wall Street, accounted for 62 percent of advertising revenue in the most recent quarter, versus 41 percent in the year-earlier period. Facebook estimates that 650 million of the 829 million people who access Facebook on a daily basis do so via a mobile device. Zuckerberg stoked investors' enthusiasm when he noted that mobile has more "room to grow."

"The results this quarter show our continued focus on improving our core products and business," Zuckerberg said during the company's earnings conference call. "We're going to continue investing aggressively in areas that are important for our mission and long term strategy, but we're also going to stay focused on our core products and business."

Ordinarily, when CEOs talk about "investing" in their businesses, shareholders take that as a signal to sell their stocks because it means that profits will be lower. However, Facebook, as recent history suggests, isn't a typical business and analysts are applauding the company's moves.

"Their advertising model is scaling very nicely," said Edward Jones & Co. analyst Josh Olson told Bloomberg News. "We've seen them take a very careful approach to advertising, doing things so that they don't alienate their audience."

Wall Street expects the good times to continue for Facebook. Analysts have an average 52-week price target on the stock of $78.09, with a low of $57.54 to a high of $90. Most analysts view the stock as a "buy."

With a market valuation of about $191 billion, Facebook, which was founded in 2004, has a market valuation that surpasses the combined market value of McDonald's, which the market values at $94 billion and Time Warner , which has a capitalization of $74 billion.

  • Jonathan Berr

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