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Facebook's Scrooge Tactics Are Working

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, speaks at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on June 20
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, speaks at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on June 20Photograph by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Most of the headlines surrounding Facebook’s second-quarter results centered on two things: the company’s very strong mobile revenue, and the 20 percent stock jump that news triggered. The bottom line has always put a damper on Facebook’s party of user growth, shared photos, and likes, so investors were pleased to see the company actually selling ads in the fast-growing mobile market—and, you know, making real money.

A less obvious figure from the company’s financial statements should also hearten investors. Through the first half of 2013, Facebook laid out $606 million in capital expenditures like property and equipment, compared with $956 million in the same period a year earlier. In Facebook’s case, most of that money goes into the data centers it crams with servers, storage systems, and networking boxes. The company has constructed its own massive computing warehouses in Oregon, North Carolina, and Sweden, and has one on the way in Iowa; such facilities typically run about 300,000 square feet and cost something like $1 billion.