Facebook shares slide as it warns of slowdown in revenue growth

Social media giant seen as most exposed to user privacy changes introduced by Apple

Facebook said on Wednesday it expects revenue growth in the third and fourth quarters to “decelerate significantly,”. Photograph:  Lionel Bonaventure / AFP via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it expects revenue growth in the third and fourth quarters to “decelerate significantly,”. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure / AFP via Getty Images

 

Facebook said on Wednesday it expects revenue growth in the third and fourth quarters to “decelerate significantly,” sending the social media giant’s shares down about 5 per cent in extended trading.

The warning overshadowed the company’s beat on Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue, bolstered by increased advertising spending as businesses build their digital presence to cater to consumers spending more time and money online.

Monthly active users came in at 2.9 billion, up 7 per cent from the same period last year but marking the slowest growth rate in at least three years. “The user growth slowdown is notable, and highlights the engagement challenges as the world opens up,” said Ygal Arounian, an analyst at Wedbush Securities.

“But importantly, Facebook is the most exposed to Apple’s privacy changes, and it looks like it is starting to have an impact to the outlook beginning in 3Q [the third quarter].”

Facebook said it expects Apple’s recent privacy change, which requires iPhone app developers to begin asking users’ permission to collect certain data for ads, to impact its ability to target ads and therefore ad revenue in the third quarter.

The company’s total revenue, which primarily consists of ad sales, rose to $29.08 billion (€24.5 billion) in the second quarter from $18.69 billion a year earlier, beating analysts’ estimates of $27.89 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Its revenue from advertising rose 56 per cent to $28.58 billion in the second quarter, Facebook said.

Facebook, like its peers, has seen increased demand for digital ads as the pandemic drove consumers to shop largely online, forcing several businesses to create online stores and markets using social media platforms.

“In the third and fourth quarters of 2021, we expect year-over-year total revenue growth rates to decelerate significantly on a sequential basis as we lap periods of increasingly strong growth,” chief financial officer Dave Wehner said in the earnings release.

Profit after tax rose to $10.4 billion, or $3.61 per share, from $5.18 billion, or $1.80 per share, a year earlier. Analysts had expected a profit of $3.03 per share.

The company continues to face pressure from global lawmakers and regulators, including from the US Federal Trade Commission which has until August 19th to refile its antitrust complaint against the company and from a group of states who said on Wednesday they would appeal the judge’s dismissal of their lawsuit.

Facebook hit $1 trillion market cap for the first time last month when the judge threw out the original complaints. – Reuters