(By Mani) Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB
), which is one of the worst performing initial public offering in the U.S. technology sector this year, is set to report its first quarterly earnings as a public company on July 26.
The conference call, which will take place at 5 ET, is key to the company as the company's first conference call, and it gives Mark Zuckerberg and Co. a chance to regain investor confidence after its IPO fiasco and convince investors that its shares warrant higher valuation. The earnings call is also an opportunity for the company to set the record straight and rebuild the brand name.
Wall Street expects the social networking giant to earn 12 cents a share on revenue of $1.15 billion for the second quarter, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
Shares of California-based Facebook dropped 26 percent after its IPO in May when Facebook priced its eagerly-awaited public offering at $38, valuing it at $104 billion. Since, debuted on Nasdaq on May 18, Facebook shares have been marred by several issues right from technical glitches to lofty valuations and allegations of "selective dissemination."
Reuters reported that the Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriter of Facebook IPO, cut its estimates of the social networking giant while the IPO roadshow was underway. Following Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) – other leading underwriters – have also cut their estimates on Facebook in the middle of the IPO roadshow.
In this backdrop, investors will look for Mark Zuckerberg to provide insights on the company's mobile strategy. Facebook had said the company is yet to monetize its surging user base on tablets and smartphones and said its daily active users (DAUs) increasing more rapidly than the increase in number of ads delivered.
Users are increasingly accessing Facebook on tablets and smartphones where Facebook has limited presence as it currently does not show ads on mobile devices. Facebook has 488 million monthly active users (MAUs) using the website on their tablets or smartphones in March 2012, and accounts for about 54 percent of its total MAUs of 901 million.
Recently, automaker General Motors Corp. (NYSE:GM) pulled its ads from the social networking site. GM, the third largest advertiser in the U.S. after P&G (NYSE:PG) and AT&T (NYSE:T), shelled out nearly $10 million on Facebook advertising last year out of its $1.78 billion spent on advertisements.
So, Facebook should convince the viability of its revenue model to investors. Though, social network advertising on Facebook and Twitter should become a lucrative industry, they may have to prove their value to advertisers in terms of return on investment.
Facebook is trying to beef up its mobile advertising strategy as it launched its inaugural mobile- advertising platform in February and it plans to deploy real-time bidding for ads on its site, a strategy that delivered success to Google, Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and other rivals.
Meanwhile, the introduction of a mobile ad unit could add a significant revenue stream. Sponsored Stories, which appear in the user‘s News Feed, have only recently been introduced and are still in the testing phase, but they are more targeted than early display efforts and also appear on mobile devices.
As new formats and Facebook‘s targeting capabilities are built out, sell-through and impression growth should improve. However, these efforts may not bring results immediately, and analysts have trimmed their quarterly earnings projection in the past 30 days from 15 cents to the current 12 cents.
Facebook, which generates a substantial majority of revenue from advertising, posted a profit of $1 billion on $3.7 billion in sales in 2011. In 2010, it earned $606 million on $1.97 billion in sales. However, for the first quarter, the company's profit fell 12 percent to $205 million as 45 percent increase in sales to $1.06 billion was offset by 97 percent surge in costs.
Earlier this month, Facebook ended its patent dispute with Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) and launched a new advertising partnership. The companies have also extended and expanded distribution arrangements.
Late April, Facebook agreed to buy 650 patents from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) for $550 million in cash. The latest deal is the second-biggest in the history of Facebook after its deal to acquire photo-sharing app maker Instagram in a cash and stock deal worth $1 billion.
iStock's View: Facebook should not create hype and guide steep earnings and sales for future periods that they cannot meet. They should take their time to resolve their fundamentals issues, including mobile advertising, rather than trying to please the analyst community. We recommend investors to keep on the sidelines unless the company delivers on its mobile monetization efforts.