Facebook Smashes Wall Street Expectations in First Quarter

Mark Zuckerberg

UPDATED: The social network also announced that CFO David Ebersman will step down in June.

Facebook beat analyst expectations Wednesday when it reported first-quarter profits of 34 cents per share excluding certain items on revenue of $2.5 billion. 

Wall Street had expected Facebook to report per-share earnings of 24 cents on 60 percent rise in revenue to $2.4 billion. Instead, revenue was up 72 percent from the same period last year.  

Revenue from advertising remained the largest money maker for Facebook. Ads brought in $2.27 billion for the social network during the quarter, up 82 percent from the same period last year. 

Net income was $642 million, up 193 percent from $219 million during the first quarter of 2013.

Daily active users on the site continued to climb, growing 21 percent to 802 million on average. Monthly active users grew 15 percent to 1.28 billion. 

Mobile continues to become a more important piece of Facebook's traffic. Daily active users from mobile devices grew 43 percent to 609 million. Monthly mobile active users were up 34 percent to 1.01 billion. 

Facebook also announced that CFO David Ebersman will step down in September after less than two years with the company. He will be replaced June 1 by David Wehner, currently Facebook's vp corporate finance and business planning. Ebersman, who previously was CFO of Zynga, will remain with the company until September to help with the transition. 

In a conference call with investors, CEO Mark Zuckerberg called Ebersman "a great partner in building Facebook." Ebersman joined the company in the lead-up to its initial public offering, and Zuckerberg noted that he "set us up to make the long-term investments that we need." 

Ebersman noted during the call that he plans on returning to the health-care sector, where he spent most of his early career. 

"This was a hard decision for me because of how much I love Facebook and all the people I work with here," he said. "I'm confident that Facebook's best days lie ahead." 

Facebook looks like a markedly different company after its first quarter than it did at the end of last year. In February, the Palo Alto social network paid up to $19 billion for messaging service WhatsApp. It followed that purchase with its $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality firm Oculus VR in March. 

The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday approved Facebook's purchase of the Irvine gaming headset maker, which Zuckerberg has said he plans to use as a broad software platform. 

Facebook shares closed down $1.67, or more than 2 percent, to $61.36 on the Nasdaq but after the closing bell were trading up $1.50. 

Twitter: @NatJarv