The company said Wednesday it earned $9.5 billion, or $3.30 per share, in the January-March period. That’s up 94% from $4.9 billion, or $1.71 per share, a year earlier.
Revenue grew 48% to $26.17 billion from $17.44 billion.
Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $2.35 per share and revenue of $23.73 billion, according to a poll by FactSet.
“We had a strong quarter as we helped people stay connected and businesses grow,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. “We will continue to invest aggressively to deliver new and meaningful experiences for years to come, including in newer areas like augmented and virtual reality, commerce, and the creator economy.”
Facebook had 2.85 billion monthly users, on average, in March. That’s up 10% from a year earlier. Its family of apps — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — had monthly users of 3.45 billion in March. That’s the number of people who logged in to at least one of the apps during the month.
Facebook CFOs commentary on financials
CFO David Wehner’s Outlook Commentary:
We are pleased with the strength of our advertising revenue growth in the first quarter of 2021, which was driven by a 30% year-over-year increase in the average price per ad and a 12% increase in the number of ads delivered. We expect that advertising revenue growth will continue to be primarily driven by price during the rest of 2021.
We expect second quarter 2021 year-over-year total revenue growth to remain stable or modestly accelerate relative to the growth rate in the first quarter of 2021 as we lap slower growth related to the pandemic during the second quarter of 2020. In the third and fourth quarters of 2021, we expect year-over-year total revenue growth rates to significantly decelerate sequentially as we lap periods of increasingly strong growth. We continue to expect increased ad targeting headwinds in 2021 from regulatory and platform changes, notably the recently-launched iOS 14.5 update, which we expect to begin having an impact in the second quarter. This is factored into our outlook.
There is also continuing uncertainty around the viability of transatlantic data transfers in light of recent European regulatory developments, and like companies across a wide range of industries, we are closely monitoring the potential impact on our European operations as these developments progress.
We expect 2021 total expenses to be in the range of $70-73 billion, updated from our prior outlook of $68-73 billion. The year-over-year growth in expenses is driven by investments in technical and product talent, infrastructure, and consumer hardware-related costs. We remain committed to investing for long-term growth and our expense outlook reflects the underlying strength of our business and the compelling investment opportunities we see across our products, including consumer hardware.
We expect 2021 capital expenditures to be in the range of $19-21 billion, down from our prior estimate of $21-23 billion. Our capital expenditures are driven primarily by our investments in data centers, servers, network infrastructure, and office facilities.
We continue to expect our full-year 2021 tax rate to be in the high-teens.
In January, the company predicted uncertainty for 2021, saying its revenue in the latter half of the year could face significant pressure. Because revenue grew so quickly in the second half of 2020, Facebook could have trouble keeping up that pace. This uncertainty is now baked into the company’s forecast, so it didn’t come as a surprise to investors.
Shares of the Menlo Park, California-based company rose $15.62, or 5.1%, to $322.72 in after-hours trading.
On Monday, Apple rolled out a new privacy feature, dubbed “App Tracking Transparency,” as part of an update to the operating system powering the iPhone and iPad. It came after a seven-month delay during which the iPhone maker and Facebook attacked each other’s business models and motives for decisions that affect billions of people around the world.
Until the new feature, Facebook and other apps have been able to automatically conduct their surveillance on iPhones unless users took the time and trouble to go into their settings to prevent it — something not many people did.
While Facebook spent months fighting the change, CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently suggested that the new privacy controls could actually help his company in the long run. His rationale: The inability to automatically track iPhone users may prod more companies to sell their products directly on Facebook and Instagram if they can’t collect enough personal information to effectively target ads within their own apps. This would help Facebook’s bottom line, of course.
Facebook said Wednesday it expects 2021 revenue growth to stay stable or “modestly accelerate” compared with the growth rate in the first quarter. The Apple update is already factored into this guidance.