Facebook beats analyst expectations, reports $1.58 billion in Q4 revenue

Facebook announced $1.58 billion in revenue Wednesday for the company’s fourth quarter, beating analyst estimates of $1.53 billion. Overall, the company reported $5.09 billion in revenue for 2012, compared to $3.71 billion for 2011, when the company was not yet public. The company saw fourth-quarter earnings of $0.17 per share excluding one-time charges, compared to analyst expectations of earnings of $0.15 per share.
Facebook made crucial gains in mobile this quarter, one of the primary areas that has been used to evaluate the health of the company since its IPO last year. Facebook saw mobile daily active users (DAUs) exceed web DAUs for the first time in the fourth quarter.
“Today there’s no argument. Facebook is a mobile company,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on the earnings call Wednesday afternoon, stating strongly that while the company has made important leaps on mobile, it will not be developing the much-discussed Facebook phone.
The company saw a serious uptick in mobile advertising revenue, which made up 23 percent of its total advertising revenue in the fourth quarter, compared to 14 percent in the third quarter. Mobile is the most important game now for Facebook, as it was for the last earnings report. The company has worked to improve the speed of its native apps in 2012. Zuckerberg highlighted the speed of the company’s apps as a major area of improvement in 2012.
“Often, doing a good job is focusing on basic issues like performance and stability,” he said.
Over the past year, Facebook has focused tremendously on monetization through mobile advertising. COO Sheryl Sandberg emphasized that Facebook is the platform that marketers should consider when allocating their advertising dollars because of the company’s strength among mobile users, obviously contrasting the company to its ad rival Google.
“Facebook is a relatively new marketing platform, so proving that our ads are effective remains an important priority,” she said. “Marketers are realizing that our newsfeed is the most efficient and effective way to reach their customers.”
The company now has 1.06 billion monthly active users as of Dec. 31, as compared to 1.01 billion as of Sept. 30. The company has 618 million daily active users compared to 584 million on average in September, and mobile MAUs are at 680 million compared to 604 million as of Sept. 30.
The company recently released Graph Search, which will likely have its own monetization opportunities, and Zuckerberg was eager to emphasize that while it’s still a beta product, it creates serious long-term opportunities for the company. He took obvious digs at Google in emphasizing Facebook’s collection of personal data and connections that can be used in search, and said the companies had different goals:
“We’re just coming from a completely different place,” he said. “Our whole product is people and structured connections.”
Facebook has gone through a holiday season with the full roll-out of its e-commerce “Facebook Gifts” product. However, the company did not break out revenue from Facebook gifts in its earnings report, stating only that advertising made up 84 percent of revenue, up from 41 percent from the same quarter last year. And the company said only that it is working to figure out how to get people using Facebook Gifts more and making it part of the natural site experience. Revenue from payments and other fees (such as those connected with games) was $256 million, which saw essentially no increase over the previous year after adjusting for accounting changes in December.
This post was updated continuously to reflect Facebook’s afternoon earnings call.