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Facebook revenue disappoints

Facebook (FB) followed a second-quarter flop with tepid third-quarter results.

The social media giant narrowly missed expectations for global daily active users and revenue while beating on earnings per share.

Facebook delivered earnings of $1.76 per share on revenue of $13.73 billion. This beat consensus estimates of earnings of $1.47 per share but missed the $13.8 billion in revenue foreseen by average analyst expectations.

The Menlo Park, California-based company reported 1.49 billion daily active users globally in the third quarter, missing expectations of 1.5 billion. The company had seen 1.47 billion daily active users for the second quarter, also missing expectations for the period. Facebook added 1 million monthly active users in North America in the third quarter, bringing MAUs in the region to 242 million. North America remains a lucrative market for the company, with average revenue coming out to $27.61 per user in the third quarter, versus $8.82 in Europe and $2.67 per user in Asia.

Facebook’s most recent data on daily active users. (Facebook)

During a call with investors Tuesday, Facebook executives emphasized a focus on building out disappearing story and video features, two areas the company has yet to heavily monetize. “All of the trends that we’ve seen suggest that in the not-too-distant future, people will be sharing more into stories than they will into feeds,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. He added that he expects 2019 to be a year of “significant investment” as the company works to shift user activity to these features.

Executive commentary also pointed to photo-sharing app Instagram as a future driver of growth in advertising dollars. Zuckerberg said Instagram’s Explore feature comprises 20% of time spent on Instagram, but hasn’t had any advertising built into it yet. “That’s an opportunity,” Zuckerberg said.

Facebook’s third-quarter results are a mixed bag for the company after its less-than-stellar second-quarter report in July. The company missed on revenue for the first time since 2015 in the second quarter and reported a shrinking user base in North America and Europe, sending shares tumbling and erasing $120 billion in market capitalization. Company executives also said at the time that they expected revenue growth rates to be lower than the year prior for the second half of this year.

CFO David Wehner said Tuesday that Facebook anticipates mid to high single-digit revenue deceleration in the fourth quarter, in line with the company’s previous guidance.

“Although revenue came in slightly lower than Wall Street expectations, it wasn’t a significant shortfall,” eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said of Facebook’s third-quarter results in an email to Yahoo Finance. “Overall, given all the challenges Facebook has faced this year, this is a decent earnings report.”

Between data breach scandals and the specter of regulatory crackdowns, Facebook endured a turbulent third quarter. At the end of September, Facebook announced that it had discovered a breach of 50 million users’ accounts, leading European Union privacy watchdogs to mull a $1.63 billion fine on the company.

Facebook’s third-quarter results come just before next week’s US midterm elections. Facebook has recently boosted its election integrity efforts in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica revelation earlier this year, setting up a “war room” in an effort to combat bad actors and prevent a repeat of the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

“We are up against sophisticated adversaries who will continue to evolve,” Zuckerberg said Tuesday. “These are not problems that you fix, they’re problems that you manage over time.”

Shares of Facebook wavered in extended trading. The stock is down 17% for the year-to-date as of market close Tuesday.

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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