Facebook Quarterly Revenue, Profit Top Estimates on Ad Growth

Facebook Inc. reported quarterly revenue that topped analysts’ estimates, fueled by the mobile advertising business.

The social network’s fourth-quarter sales totaled $3.85 billion, exceeding the average analysts’ prediction of $3.77 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The percentage of ad sales from mobile phones was 69 percent, up from 66 percent in the third quarter, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Profit excluding some items was 54 cents a share, compared with 48 cents projected on average by analysts.

The results are an early indicator of the progress made by Facebook in building an ad-sales machine beyond its main property. The Menlo Park, California-based company is now increasingly selling promotions on mobile applications and sites across the Web, complete with new technology to track individuals’ responses to the ads no matter what device they’re using. The move has helped boost revenue, even as Facebook has warned about increased spending ahead on new initiatives and acquisitions such as Oculus VR Inc. and WhatsApp Inc.

“The expansion of advertising beyond the walls of Facebook is vital to the realization of their potential,” said Nate Elliott, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “They’ve finally shown a willingness to help marketers use their data elsewhere.”

Facebook shares were little changed in extended trading, after closing at $76.24 in New York. The stock climbed 43 percent last year, compared with an 11 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Wehner said in October that the company’s fourth-quarter revenue growth would face a tough comparison to a year earlier. That’s because the last quarter of 2013 was the first holiday season where Facebook rolled out ads in members’ News Feeds on a large scale, which helped spur results at the time.

Net income rose to $701 million in the fourth quarter, compared with $523 million a year ago. Expenses were $2.72 billion, up 87 percent from a year earlier.

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