Facebook's user engagement dips on News Feed tweaks; shares fall

By Mark Athitakis  Jan 30 2018

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg in a post conceded that "some measures of engagement may go down". Though Facebook saw a 14 percent year-over-year increase in daily and monthly active users, it actually dropped from 185 million to 184 million daily users in the USA and Canada and stayed at a flat 239 million for monthly users.

Mr Zuckerberg said the company was making changes that reduce how much time people spend on the social media site, but ensure it is "more meaningful".

Facebook has more than 2 billion monthly active users (MAUs), and it's expected to report revenue equal about to about $6 for each of them when it reports fourth-quarter earnings on January 31. That amounted to the slowest user growth on record. It had 184 million daily users in this region in the quarter, down from 185 million in the prior quarter.

"Facebook is responding to a decline in consumption, not just encouraging a decline in consumption", Wieser said at the time.

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Facebook also said its user growth had cooled slightly from its last update.

Zuckerberg said that people spent "roughly 50 million hours" per day less on Facebook last quarter. "That's going to probably serve as an overhang on the stock".

People are spending less time on Facebook - and CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims that's by design. Neil Campling, co-head of the global thematic group at Mirabaud Securities Ltd., wrote in a note following the results.

Facebook's stock dropped 5 percent in after-hours trading Wednesday after the company's latest earnings report said that USA user growth had stalled.

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Facebook reported revenue of $12.97 billion, beating the consensus estimate of $12.5 billion and up 47% from the year-ago period. Facebook explained the discrepancy on earnings per share with a $0.77 negative impact of the Trump tax cuts. Without that, profit would have been $2.21 a share.

Excluding a tax provision, the company earned $2.21 per share, topping analysts' estimates of $1.95, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

By promoting news from local sources on its platform, Facebook could make a huge difference in bringing back revenue for these smaller outfits.

Russia's operation - in the US and ahead of other elections around the world - was made easier by incentives on Facebook that reward attention-grabbing content. Zuckerberg is looking to tweak the news feed to emphasize news and advertising from trustworthy sources, local providers and authentic accounts.

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A leading Apple analyst says that Apple's resources may be stretched too thin to come out with a successor to its tiniest iPhone. Apple is said to be maintaining its existing production target of 30M units across the iPhone 7/Plus and 8/Plus ranges.

Then there's are the billion-plus Messenger MAUs who have yet to be monetized, and a billion more WhatsApp users who are in the early stages of generating revenue.

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