Facebook soars to new heights on upbeat earnings

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Facebook shares rocketed to an all-time high Thursday as investors welcomed solid earnings for the social networking giant, which has seen big gains in advertising and better connections in mobile and video.

Shares in Facebook rose 4.6 percent to close at $108.76, pushing the company’s market value to more than $306 billion.

The stock, which struggled following its public offering in 2012, has seen spectacular gains from the low of $17.72 in September 2012.

Facebook’s market value is now roughly equal to that of online giant Amazon ($307 billion) and above that of industrial conglomerate General Electric ($299 billion).

However, it remains well below the world’s biggest company by market value, Apple ($674 billion), Google parent Alphabet ($523 billion) and Microsoft ($434 billion).

In its quarterly update Wednesday, Facebook said surging mobile advertising lifted its profits and revenues and that its user base grew to over 1.5 billion people.

Net profit in the third quarter jumped 11 percent from a year ago to $891 million as revenues leaped 41 percent to $4.5 billion, despite the negative impact of a strong dollar.

The vast majority was from advertising, and mobile accounted for 78 percent of ad revenues in the quarter, compared with 66 percent a year earlier.

Facebook said the number of monthly active users of the network hit 1.55 billion, up 14 percent from a year earlier, with more than a billion using Facebook daily. And it counted some 1.39 billion of its members using mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.

Jefferies analyst Brian Pitz said in a research note that Facebook’s results were impressive, getting more advertising in mobile and establishing itself as a player in video, with more than eight billion videos viewed daily.

This ramps up Facebook as a video rival to YouTube and opens up a new stream for ad revenues.

“We think Facebook looks well positioned to capture an increasing portion of TV ad budgets as markets migrate toward data-driven, highly-targeted online video ad campaigns,” Pitz said, estimating that this “could be worth some $17 billion a year in the US alone.”

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