Facebook anticipates privacy fine of up to $5B

25 Avril, 2019, 02:40 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Facebook’s earnings hit by $3 billion legal expense related to FTC investigation

Without the expenses, Facebook would have earned $1.89 per share.

Facebook's shares increased by more than 5% to $192.60 per share in after-hours trading. That topped the US$14.97 billion average prediction of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Investors have generally shrugged off issues surrounding data use, regulatory hurdles or political pressure when evaluating Facebook, focusing instead on its robust financials. The quarter also saw the launch of an e-commerce tool on Instagram, which has become a key driver of Facebook's growth and revenue.

"Advertisers continue to be stuck on Facebook, despite its many challenges", said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson in a statement.

The company's shares jumped as high as US$193 after the report. Earlier, they declined less than 1 per cent to US$182.58 at the close in NY, leaving them up 39 per cent for 2019.

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The accrual cut the company's net income in the first quarter to $2.43 billion, or $0.85 per share. In last year's first quarter, the company posted earnings of US$4.99 billion, or US$1.69 a share, on US$11.97 billion in sales.

That number, which the company said could ultimately range between three and five billion, correlates with the size of the fine the agency is expected to levy against the tech giant and would be represent the largest the FTC has ever imposed.

But Facebook was also dogged by another string of revelations of improper data practices, the departure of a key executive, intensifying scrutiny by regulators and lawmakers in the U.S. and United Kingdom, and global outrage over the company's role in broadcasting and disseminating video of the terrorist shooting in Christchurch that killed 50 Muslims worshippers. That amount could reach to $5B, the company says.

The probe has focused on whether the sharing of data and other disputes violated a 2011 agreement with the FTC to safeguard user privacy. Earlier this month, the company faced fresh criticism for taking too long to remove a live video of a mass shooting in New Zealand and for allowing the clip to be circulated across the internet. Facebook has seen its stock rise 36% year to date, crushing the 16% rise in the S&P 500 index. "No more platitudes. What action is Facebook Inc actually taking?"

Conference call to come at 5 p.m. ET.

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