Facebook Shares Jump on Earnings, Despite $3 Billion Charge for FTC Inquiry

April 24, 2019

Facebook stock surged after the bell on Wednesday despite the social media company reporting a $3 billion legal expense.

Facebook announced earnings per share of $0.85 on revenue of $15.08 billion, a 26 percent jump since the $11.97 billion in revenue it reported last year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had anticipated earnings of $1.63 on $14.98 billion in revenue. Facebook said in the report that its earnings would have been $1.89 if not for a $3 billion expense related to an ongoing Federal Trade Commission investigation into Facebook's user data practices.

The FTC launched an investigation into Facebook's privacy practices in March 2018 after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal came to light, Recode reported. Facebook had shared without their consent data from tens of millions of user with a third party application developer that then sold it to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

The FTC's investigation is reportedly drawing to a close ー and Facebook said in its earnings report that it could cost the company $3 billion to $5 billion, depending on the outcome.

"The matter remains unresolved, and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome," Facebook wrote in its earnings release.

Despite those disclosures, the company's stock still jumped after the report, which also demonstrated growth in daily and monthly active users of the platform. Facebook reported 1.56 billion daily active users for March 2019 ー up 8 percent year-over-year ー and 2.38 billion monthly active users. The company also shared that more than 2.1 billion people daily use the Facebook "family" of apps, which includes Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, and more than 2.7 billion people use those applications monthly.

Facebook ($FB) shares have rebounded more than 50 percent since December lows, suggesting investors may be feeling confident Facebook can weather future regulatory or privacy challenges that come its way.

Top tech investor Paul Meeks said that in spite of the stock's stunning recovery he was still "just a holder of Facebook," because "it may have run too far too fast."

"Even before they kitchen sink-ed the quarter and settled for these multi billions in potential lawsuits you have a company that's growing fast. But what is their business model in the future as they go from being a public platform to one where we are communicating in smaller groups via encrypted messages and becoming more of an e-commerce platform through Instagram?"

Facebook has been laser-focused on its Stories features and messaging apps. COO Sheryl Sandberg on a call with analysts said the company now has 3 million advertisers using the ads platform.

Facebook also had announced a shift in focus toward encrypted and private messaging, despite the company's rather checkered history with privacy. On Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg clarified that he didn't foresee privacy contributing significantly to business for at least a few years, CNBC reported."