Facebook stock soars on resilient revenue growth amid coronavirus

Facebook’s stock price soared in premarket trading Friday as Wall Street cheered its resilient revenue growth despite the coronavirus pandemic and an advertising boycott.

Facebook shares had climbed about 6.6 percent to $250.09 by 7:15 a.m. after it reported more than $18.6 billion in second-quarter revenues Thursday, an 11 percent jump from the same period last year.

That marked the social-media giant’s weakest growth ever but nonetheless smashed analysts’ expectations for a 3 percent rise.

Advertising revenues surged 10 percent year-over-year to $18.3 billion despite COVID-19 putting pressure on businesses around the world and civil-rights groups pushing big companies to stop buying Facebook ads.

After being grilled by congressional lawmakers Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued a forceful defense of Facebook’s role in the tech industry Thursday amid scrutiny of its size and dominance. He particularly touted Facebook ads as a vital tool for small and medium-sized businesses, which the company said drove last quarter’s ad revenue growth.

“Our advertising is one of the most effective tools that small businesses have to find customers, to grow their businesses, and to create jobs,” Zuckerberg said on a call with analysts. “And that’s why I am often troubled by the calls to go after internet advertising, especially during a time of such economic turmoil like we face today with COVID.”

Facebook also reported a 12 percent rise in monthly active users to 2.7 billion, beating Wall Street’s expectations for 2.6 billion as people plugged into the social network during coronavirus lockdowns. The company expects the number will stay flat or drop slightly in most regions during the third quarter as shelter-in-place restrictions ease.

But Facebook’s US employees will be staying home for the foreseeable future as the virus continues to spread across the country, according to Zuckerberg, who said there’s “no end in sight” for when its staffers here will be able to return to their offices.

The company previously expected to reopen some offices this month, though Zuckerberg has announced plans to let some employees work remotely for good.

“It is incredibly disappointing because it seems like the US could have avoided this current surge in cases if our government had handled this better,” Zuckerberg said Thursday.

With Post wires

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