Facebook shares reach record high

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Facebook shares reach record high

Facebook shares rose to a record after the company notched another quarter of revenue that beat estimates, thanks to improved mobile advertising.

The stock jumped 4.6 percent to $108.76 on Thursday, the highest level since the social-networking company went public in May 2012. The surge sent Facebook’s market capitalization to about $307 billion, making it larger than Johnson & Johnson and General Electric.

Facebook isn’t just relying on more users - it’s also putting more ads in front of this vast, growing audience. The company brought its full marketing firepower to Instagram, its mobile photo-sharing application, for the first time in the quarter, while boosting the number of video ads on its main application. Such efforts are working: the average revenue Facebook earned from each user climbed 24 percent to $2.97 in the latest period.

“It’s difficult to restrain our optimism on the growth potential for the foreseeable future,” Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research, wrote in a note to investors. He estimated the stock can reach $134 in 2016, adding that the performance was “remarkable” considering how high expectations were, and how many new businesses Facebook has yet to monetize.

Facebook, which runs the world’s biggest social network, late Wednesday reported third-quarter sales of $4.5 billion, compared with the $4.37 billion average analyst estimate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. There are now 1.01 billion daily visitors checking on other people and sharing status updates, the Menlo Park, California-based company said in a statement. Monthly users jumped 14 percent to 1.55 billion.

Profit excluding some items was 57 cents a share, compared with analysts’ prediction for 52 cents. Net income rose to $896 million from $806 million.

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg had $2.4 billion added to his fortune in the first 15 minutes of trading on Thursday, given him a net worth of $47.8 billion. He is the eighth-wealthiest person on the planet, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Co-founder Dustin Moskovitz gained $500 million, putting his fortune at $10.7 billion. Sean Parker, Facebook’s original president, gained $390 million. He is worth $7 billion.

Facebook has been working to improve the quality - and therefore the price - of ads as Zuckerberg invests in newer initiatives, including projects such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Zuckerberg said that although virtual reality is an exciting investment area for the company, he expects it to grow slowly. Bloomberg
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