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Facebook profit nearly doubles on strong ad growth

NEW YORK - Facebook (FB) on Tuesday reported third-quarter profit of $806 million, a 90 percent increase from third-quarter 2013's $425 million, thanks to strong growth in advertising revenue, which totaled $2.96 billion.

Mobile ad revenue, a closely watched figure, was $1.95 billion, or 66 percent of Facebook's total ad revenue for the quarter. That's up from 62 percent in the second quarter and 59 percent in the first three months of the year. The 10-year-old company began offering mobile ads in 2012.

The Menlo Park, Calif., social networking giant said it had a diluted profit of 30 cents per share, up 76 percent from 2013's 17 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to 43 cents per share.

The results exceeded Wall Street expectations, where analysts' average estimate was for earnings of 40 cents per share, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue of $3.2 billion in the period also surpassed Street forecasts. Analysts expected $3.11 billion, according to Zacks. "This has been a good quarter with strong results," said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO.

Still, the shares were trading lower in after-hours trading on the earnings announcement. The stock shed $1.18, or 1.5 percent, to around $79.50.

Facebook has been on a roll lately. Its stock hit an all-time high of $81.16 Tuesday before the results came out. That's more than double its $38 initial public offering price.

Facebook shares have increased 48 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has risen slightly more than 7 percent. The shares closed regular trading on Tuesday at $80.77, a rise of 0.6 percent

Advertising revenue jumped by 64 percent in the third quarter, helped by a boost in mobile ads that are becoming an increasingly large chunk of Facebook's overall advertising business.

The steady increase indicates that it has succeeded in steering advertisers to its mobile platform at a time when most of its users are using mobile devices to access it.

Facebook had 1.35 billion average monthly users as of Sept. 30, an increase of 14 percent from a year earlier. Daily users totaled 864 million, up 19 percent. Mobile monthly active users, meanwhile, were 1.12 billion, up 29 percent from a year earlier.

While Facebook has been growing its share of the worldwide digital advertising market, it's still a long way from catching up to rival Google (GOOG). In 2013, Facebook had a nearly 6 percent share of the market compared with Google's 32 percent, according to eMarketer. This year, Facebook is expected to grow its slice to nearly 8 percent, while Google's should decline slightly, to just below 32 percent.

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