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Stock Markets Remain Mixed; Pinterest, Facebook Signal Social Media Strength

By Dan Caplinger – Updated Jul 31, 2020 at 11:32AM

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The coronavirus pandemic has created definite winners and losers among companies.

Friday continued a trend that stock market investors have seen for some time, as major market benchmarks moved in different directions. Many of the largest tech companies in the world reported their latest financial results late Thursday, and the collective gains were enough to offset pressure from the energy and industrial sectors. Just before 11 a.m. EDT today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 2.66%) was down 171 points to 26,143. The S&P 500 (^GSPC 2.59%) fell 12 points to 3,235, but the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) gained 27 points to 10,615.

Social media stocks have gotten a lot more viewership during the coronavirus pandemic, since those staying at home have had to entertain themselves in different ways. That was good news for companies like Pinterest (PINS 1.72%) and Facebook (META 2.16%), and their earnings revealed some favorable trends that could lead to continued growth for the rest of 2020 and beyond.

Stick a pin in it

Shares of Pinterest jumped 28% Friday morning, buoyed by its second-quarter financial results. The social media company has had a hard time of it since its IPO more than a year ago, but it finally seems to be gaining traction in identifying its niche.

Mobile screen with several pictures and descriptions.

Image source: Pinterest.

Pinterest's user metrics were impressive. Global monthly active users of the service were up 39% year over year during the second quarter, hitting 416 million people. That was important in offsetting some of the weakness in the advertising industry, which drives Pinterest's monetization. Revenue was higher by 4% from the year-ago quarter, lifted by a more than 70% rise in international revenue.

The company was reluctant to provide guidance, but its July figures were encouraging, with sales looking to jump about 50% versus July 2019. It predicted third-quarter growth in the mid-30% range, but it didn't extrapolate to predict what the full 2020 fiscal year would bring.

Pinterest has a unique appeal to those with a visual bent, and its features resonate with users in ways that other social media networks don't. If it can preserve the good vibes from its service while making more money, then Pinterest has a lot of room for further growth.

Putting a good face on social media

Shares of Facebook were up almost 8% in the aftermath of its second-quarter financial release late Thursday. Many had feared a slowdown due to incidents like the advertising boycott that many well-known consumer brands have waged against Facebook, but that didn't show up much in its numbers.

Facebook managed to grow revenue by 11% during the quarter, fighting back against sluggishness in the advertising sector. A big decline in its income tax provision helped Facebook nearly double its net income from year-ago levels. Both figures came in far better than most of those following the stock had anticipated.

Like Pinterest, Facebook saw a lot more interest from its audience. Daily active users climbed 12% to 1.79 billion, while monthly active user counts came in at 2.70 billion, also up 12% year over year. Facebook attributed much of the gains to people around the world sheltering in place and seeking other ways to connect.

Facebook stock soared to all-time highs as a consequence. So far, even with plenty of criticism, Facebook's business looks as healthy as ever, as a leader in the communication services sector.

Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook and Pinterest. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Meta Platforms, Inc. Stock Quote
Meta Platforms, Inc.
META
$138.61 (2.16%) $2.93
Pinterest Stock Quote
Pinterest
PINS
$23.70 (1.72%) $0.40
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$29,490.89 (2.66%) $765.38
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
^GSPC
$3,678.43 (2.59%) $92.81
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
^IXIC
$10,575.62 (%)

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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