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Facebook revenue, profit beat forecasts; shares hit all-time high

The social media company posted a surprisingly strong 40.5% jump in quarterly revenue.

Facebook posted a surprisingly strong 40.5% jump in quarterly revenue as new advertising services and its mobile app boosted ad sales at the world’s largest social network.

The stock rose about 5% to an all-time high of $109.34 in extended trading on Wednesday, before paring gains to about 2%. It closed earlier at $103.94.

Third-quarter profit also beat Wall Street’s average estimate despite increased spending on Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp apps and Oculus, its virtual reality business.

Ad revenue grew 45.4% to $4.30 billion, with mobile ads accounting for 78% of the total versus 66% in the same quarter last year.

“As it matures they continue to prove they can not only effectively monetize businesses and advertising partners but they have products and services that bring significant value to users,” said Brian Blau, research director, personal technologies at research firm Gartner Inc.

Facebook continued to expand its reach, hitting 1.55 billion monthly active users as of Sept. 30, up 14% from a year earlier. Of these, 1.39 billion used the service on mobile devices.

“Growth is happening across the board and we’re of course looking for a lot of growth in the future in emerging markets,” Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg in an interview. “We’re also pretty focused on helping bring the next set of people who are not online, online.”

Market research firm FactSet StreetAccount had predicted 1.53 billion monthly active users, with 1.36 billion on mobile.

Revenue jumped to $4.50 billion in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from $3.20 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected revenue of $4.37 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“The biggest surprise coming out of the quarter was the ability to accelerate advertising revenue growth,” said analyst James Cakmak of Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co. “That is a testament to the demand for their platform by advertisers.”

Net income attributable to stockholders rose to $891 million, or 31 cents per share, from $802 million, or 30 cents per share.

Excluding items, the Menlo Park, California-based company earned 57 cents per share, ahead of analysts’ average estimate of 52 cents per share.

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