Facebook revenue jumps 52%, hits 1.59 billion monthly users

Facebook Posts Q4 Blowout
Facebook Posts Q4 Blowout

Facebook, the world's biggest social-media service, keeps growing bigger as the company blew past Wall Street financial forecasts for the fourth quarter of 2015.

The company said it had 1.59 billion monthly active users as of Dec. 31, up 14% year-over-year. Revenue of $5.84 billion was up 52% and net income more than doubled to $1.56 billion, or 79 cents per share.

Facebook shares popped more than 5% in after-hours trading, after closing down 3% Wednesday amid a broader market pullback. Analysts had expected Facebook to report earnings of 68 cents per share on revenue of $5.36 billion for Q4, according to a Thomson Reuters survey.

Facebook through the years:

"2015 was a great year for Facebook. Our community continued to grow and our business is thriving," Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in announcing the results. "We continue to invest in better serving our community, building our business and connecting the world."

Facebook users now watch 100 million hours of video daily on the service, Zuckerberg said on the earnings call. In addition to testing a suggested videos feature, the company also is "exploring ways to give people a dedicated place on Facebook when they just want to watch videos," he said.

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The latest quarter of impressive growth again was driven by mobile usage and advertising. Mobile daily active users were 934 million on average in December 2015 — an increase of 25% year-over-year — while total daily active users rose 17%, to 1.04 billion. Mobile ad revenue was around $4.5 billion, or 80% of total advertising revenue for the fourth quarter of 2015, compared with 69% in the year-earlier period.

On the virtual-reality front, Zuckerberg noted that Facebook plans to begin shipping the Oculus Rift headset in 20 countries before the end of March. The device will carry a price tag of $599.

The Oculus Rift VR system is "going to be gaming for the beginning, that's the initial market," Zuckerberg said. "But overall, the reason why we're interested in this is because we think this is going to be a new way for people to interact."

Facebook did not break out results for Instagram, except to note that it passed 400 million monthly active users in September 2015. COO Sheryl Sandberg said on the earnings call that 98 of the top 100 Facebook advertisers also advertised on Instagram in Q4.

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