Wednesday 29 January 2020 9:21 pm

Facebook shares fall after reporting slowed growth

Facebook’s share price fell almost eight per cent in extended trading tonight, following the firm’s fourth-quarter results.

The social media giant reported sales growth of 24.7 per cent to $21.08bn, edging past analyst forecasts of $20.89bn and marking the fourth straight quarter of growth under 30 per cent.

It also nudged up profit, posting earnings per share of $2.56 compared to estimates of $2.53. Total costs and expenses surged 34 per cent to $12.22bn, dragging down operating margins.

Across its family of apps — which includes Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram as well as Facebook — the firm said it had more than 2.89bn monthly users, compared to 2.8bn a quarter earlier.

“We had a good quarter and a strong end to the year as our community and business continue to grow,” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. “We remain focused on building services that help people stay connected to those they care about.”

The firm also announced a $10bn share repurchase programme in the results.

It followed a year that included a spate of regulatory challenges for Facebook.

The tech giant was hit with a major US penalty in July of $5bn as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and continues to hold discussions with authorities over the launch of its proposed digital currency programme Libra.

In North America, Facebook’s user base rose to 190m daily active users from 189m in the previous quarter. Meanwhile its user base in Europe increased to 294m, up from 288m.

“Despite another controversial year for Facebook, the social media giant continues its growth across its family of platforms and services. However, there may be challenges ahead,” said Tamara Littleton, chief executive of The Social Element.

“The meteoric rise of the social platform from China’s Bytedance —TikTok — is a cause for concern for the giant. Facebook needs to take note if it is to keep its users occupied, and keep up its excellent revenues. It seems data scandals cannot harm the company — but TikTok might.”