Mobile ad growth sets scene for Facebook share surge

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 30, 2014 7:33 AM

(Reuters) - Facebook Inc's shares were set to open up 15 percent at a life high after the company's resounding revenue growth underscored CEO Mark Zuckerberg's success in selling ad space on the social network's mobile app.

At least 20 brokerages raised their price targets on Facebook's shares, which were trading at $61.30 before the bell on Thursday. The stock has never before traded higher than $60 during market hours.

Facebook's fourth-quarter revenue rose to $2.585 billion from $1.585 billion in the year-ago period, beating analysts' average expectation of $2.33 billion.

"After disappointing earnings from large-cap internet stocks like eBay and Yahoo, it was refreshing to see FB crush Q4 consensus estimates, with accelerating trends in its core advertising business," CRT Capital analyst Neil Doshi wrote.

Facebook said revenue from mobile ads represented 53 percent of its total fourth-quarter advertising revenue, up from 49 percent in the third quarter.

While the total number of ad impressions on Facebook declined 8 percent, some analysts attributed that to the company's shift to mobile and focused instead on the near-doubling of ad pricing in the last year.

Facebook's latest newsfeed ads, which inject paid marketing messages straight into a user's stream of news and content, are ideally suited for mobile screens and have boosted revenue in recent months.

"We expect several more quarters ahead of expanding newsfeed ad pricing, and also suspect the ad model on Facebook will continue to evolve rapidly, leaving room for future positive surprises," Canaccord Genuity Michael Graham wrote in a note.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Robin Paxton)