Facebook Hit by "Significant Reduction" in Advertising Demand Amid Pandemic

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

The social network is not providing revenue guidance for the second quarter of the year due to "increasing uncertainty in our business outlook."

Facebook saw a "significant reduction" in advertising demand during the final three weeks of the first quarter, when the coronavirus pandemic made its way to the U.S. 

The social networking giant said that, while it saw some signs of stability during the first few weeks of the second quarter, it will not provide specific revenue guidance due to the uncertainty of its business outlook. 

The company's earnings disclosure on Wednesday offered the first full look at how the shutdown related to the coronavirus has impacted Facebook's business. While advertising interest was curtailed, the company said it saw increased engagement from its users as people around the world began to shelter in place. Meanwhile, it expects to save some on expenses related to travel, events and marketing. 

"Our work has always been about helping you stay connected with the people you care about," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. "With people relying on our services more than ever, we're focused on keeping people safe, informed and connected."

During the period, which had largely ended before the full effects of the pandemic were felt, Facebook brought in quarterly revenue of $17.4 billion, up 17 percent year-over-year. It had a net income of $1.71 per share, up 101 percent compared with the same period last year.  

The company had 1.73 billion daily average users, an 11 percent increase in the size of its network. Monthly average users were up 10 percent to 2.6 billion. Including Instagram and WhatsApp, Facebook had 2.36 billion daily active people. 

Facebook said it has committed over $300 million to help its community during the crisis, including creating a $100 million small business grant program and a $100 million in investment to support the news industry. It is also donating $25 million to support health care workers on the front lines.

Looking ahead, Facebook said it expects the increased engagement it is experiencing to dissipate as shelter-in-place restrictions are relaxed. The company also said that advertising revenue has been largely flat for the first part of the second quarter compared to the same period a year ago. "The trends reflect weakness across all of our user geographies as most of our major countries have had some sort of shelter-in-place guidelines in effect," reads the earnings report. 

Facebook's coronavirus-related investments will have an impact on its financial performance this year, the company disclosed. Combined with the lowering of expenses in other areas of the business, it now expects total expenses for the year to be between $52 billion and $56 billion, down from its previous forecast. 

Facebook's shares, which closed the day up more than 6 percent, were trading up more than 10 percent after-hours on the Nasdaq.