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Facebook's growth slows but tops Wall Street forecasts

Facebook on Tuesday reported its slowest quarterly growth as a public company, pressured by the coronavirus pandemic and a resulting global slowdown in digital advertising.

The social network, like Google on Tuesday, said it's feeling the squeeze from the global pandemic but expects to weather it with modest long-term effects.

Facebook said it earned $4.9 billion, or $1.71 per share, in the January-March quarter. That's more than double the $2.43, or 85 cents per share, it reported in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 18% to $17.74 billion from $15.08 billion.

Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting higher earnings of $1.74 per share and lower revenue of $17.34 billion.

The company said it saw a "significant reduction" in ad prices and demand in the last three weeks of March. It declined to give revenue guidance for the rest of the year, but said in the second quarter so far, it has seen "signs of stability" in the first three weeks of April. Ad revenue during this time has been flat compared with the year-ago period, Facebook said.

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Facebook had 2.6 billion monthly users on average in March, up 10% compared to a year earlier. Its daily user base during the month grew 11% to an average of 1.73 billion.

The company said nearly 3 billion people used at least one of its apps (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger or WhatsApp) at least once a month in March. That's up 11% from a year ago.

Facebook's stock shot up more than 8.5% to $210.77 in after-hours trading following release of its results.

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