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2 Must-See Takeaways From Facebook's Earnings Call

By Daniel Sparks - May 2, 2021 at 11:05AM

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The social network's advertising revenue may have been the main driver for its blockbuster first-quarter results, but investors shouldn't overlook the company's ambitions in e-commerce.

Facebook (META 2.03%) absolutely obliterated analyst estimates when it reported its first-quarter results last week. The social network reported first-quarter revenue of $26.1 billion, up 48% year over year. Net income nearly doubled, hitting $9.5 billion, translating to earnings per share of $3.30. Analysts, on average, were expecting revenue and earnings per share of $23.7 billion and $2.37, respectively.

Though the headline numbers from the earnings release certainly tell quite a story, there was a lot more for investors to digest about the tech company in Facebook's first-quarter earnings call. Two particular topics that surfaced during the call, for instance, were the company's growing ambitions in e-commerce and the key drivers for its huge advertising revenue growth.

Here's what management said about these topics during the call. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gives a presentation.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Image source: Facebook.

Facebook has big plans for e-commerce

One hot topic during the earnings call that received more attention than usual was the social network's growing investment in e-commerce. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called commerce one of its "long-term opportunities" that it's "really focused on." In addition, Zuckerberg said, "Commerce has been growing in our services for a while, but it has become a lot more important as the pandemic has accelerated a broader shift toward businesses moving online."

Further, it sounds like Facebook may have an interesting new e-commerce feature in its pipeline that it's readying for release this year. "[W]ith Instagram and Facebook, we have a unique ability to bring creators and commerce together, and we will share more on that later this year," Zuckerberg said.

Facebook already has a shopping experience that lets users sell products in a seamless shopping experience that works across Facebook and Instagram. The company has over 1 million monthly active shops and sees 250 million monthly visitors to these shops.

Surging demand from advertisers

Fueling the company's advertising revenue growth was a 12% year-over-year increase in ad impressions and 30% growth in price per ad.

But what exactly caused such a sharp increase in advertising pricing across Facebook's social networks? While advertising in its commerce vertical was exceptionally strong, most of Facebook's advertising revenue growth was simply due to stronger-than-expected demand from all verticals and a sharp recovery from verticals that were negatively impacted by COVID-19.

"[R]eally just strong across-the-board demand for ads has been what's driven it for us," explained CFO David Wehner.

Facebook shareholders may want to give the first-quarter earnings call a listen. In addition to the call featuring further discussion of the topics covered in this article, management provided more details on Facebook Marketplace, WhatsApp, payments, and more.

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