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January 30, 2013

Facebook profits fall but mobile revenues double

Facebook mobile revenues doubled in Q4 2012, beating analyst expectations.

By Tineka Smith

Mobile Facebook users have exceeded desktop users for the first time in Q4 2012.

In December 31, 2012 the social network had 680 million monthly active users, an increase of 57% year-over-year.

The increase is good news for Facebook who had once told investors that mobile was a particularly weak spot for the company.

Mobile revenue represented nearly a quarter of all advertising revenue for the fourth quarter, up 14% of advertising revenue in the previous quarter.

The company launched Facebook for Android 2.0 and opened Facebook messenger to anyone with a mobile phone number.

The company also ventured into search, releasing its Graph search beta enabling users to find places photos and other content on the site.

"In 2012, we connected over a billion people and became a mobile company," said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO. "We enter 2013 with good momentum and will continue to invest to achieve our mission and become a stronger, more valuable company."

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Advertising revenues came to $1.33bn, which represented 84% of total revenue, an increase of 41% from the same period in 2011.

Net income for the fourth quarter was $64m, a significant decline from £302m in the same quarter the year before. However, Facebook Q4 costs and expenses totalled $1.06bn, a drastic increase of 82% when compared to the year before.

Eden Zoller, principal analyst at Ovum says, that the company is finally moving in the right direction after it’s disappointing IPO performance and previous quarters in 2012.

"Facebook Q4 2012 results give cause for optimism and suggest the company is on the right track following its disappointing IPO and the lacklustre two quarters that immediately followed," said Zoller. " What stands out from Facebook’s Q4 results is the centrality of mobile for its service strategy and growth. Revenues from mobile advertising accounted for 23% of total advertising revenues compared to 14% in the previous quarter, with sponsored stories in the mobile news feed and app install ads proving effective. Wal-Mart alone delivered 50 million mobile ads to customers. This solid progress on the mobile advertising front should be applauded as a key challenge for Facebook has been how to monetize its growing mobile user base, particularly as an increasing number interact with the platform by only via mobile devices.

"Facebook also noted that the recently launched Graph Search would be a pillar for future growth, although it would not be drawn on details," added Zoller. "There will be growing pressure for Facebook to monetize Graph Search over the coming quarters and the most obvious way it could do so is via sponsored search. Although revenues from gifts and games only present a small part of Facebook’s revenues the story on this front was muted, as were insights into Instagram’s contribution to future growth."

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