Editor's note: Facebook has rescheduled its quarterly report to after market close on Thursday, July 30. It will hold its conference call at 3 p.m. Pacific time that day. This article has been updated.
Facebook (META) is slated to report earnings after market close on Thursday. The company, like many others, is going through a volatile period. Fortunately for this FAANG stock, as people stay at home more often to avoid COVID-19, they use its apps more frequently. Still, the company has challenges to contend with.
Although people are using Facebook's family of apps more often, advertisers are not spending as much money to advertise to them. Many businesses have had to shut their doors to customers, and those fortunate enough to stay open are mostly generating decreased revenue and slashing expenses, including advertising, to remain afloat. What's more, the additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits is set to expire at the end of this month, which has the potential to reduce consumer spending even further.
Here's what investors should look for when Facebook reports earnings.
Will Facebook's results make investors hit the "like" button?
The most crucial figure investors should look at is revenue growth. In its first quarter, revenue grew 17.6% year over year. Between companies cutting their marketing budgets as a result of the coronavirus and the uncertainty surrounding its own business, Facebook did not provide any guidance for the second quarter. However, it did provide an update for the quarter in late April:
After the initial steep decrease in advertising revenue in March, we have seen signs of stability reflected in the first three weeks of April, where advertising revenue has been approximately flat compared to the same period a year ago [...] The April 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.
After a few quarters of staying relatively flat, Facebook acquired five million additional daily active users from the U.S. and Canada during the first quarter. Sign-ups from this region are the most valuable by far, increasing to average revenue per user (ARPU) of $34.18. The next closest are users in Europe, where ARPU is $10.64. Clearly, investors will be interested in looking at the number of people added from the company's home market, in addition to the global total.
Lastly, large corporations have been reducing or stopping their advertising on Facebook in support of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which blames Facebook for not doing enough to stop hate speech on its site. Large companies made up 25% of Facebook's revenue in fiscal 2019.
Because most of the announcements of these advertising boycotts started early in July, the impacts will not be reflected in the financials reported by Facebook this week. Rather, management may wish to disclose some information in the conference call following the earnings release or provide detail to analysts during the call. Investors should look for hints regarding how these highly publicized boycotts end up affecting Facebook's revenue in the current quarter and beyond.
Be prepared for extra volatility
The uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes this earnings report a unique one. Numerous factors beyond those mentioned above can jolt the price of the stock up or down. Shareholders and potential investors should prepare themselves for unusually high price movements following the earnings release.