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Facebook fourth-quarter earnings and revenue increase sharply on ad revenue

NEW YORK--Mobile advertising accounted for more than half of Facebook's total ad revenue in the final quarter of last year, a sign that the social network born a decade ago in the desktop computer era is succeeding in its goal of being “mobile first.”

Facebook's earnings and revenue handily surpassed Wall Street's expectations for the third quarter in a row as it further expands the number of users and the amount of money it makes on mobile ads.

“If 2012 was the year where we turned our core product into a mobile product, then 2013 was the year we where we turned our business into a mobile business,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a conference call with analysts. “I expect 2014 will be the year where we begin to deliver new and engaging types of mobile experiences.”

Facebook Inc. said Wednesday that it earned US$523 million, or 20 cents per share, in the October-December quarter. That's up from US$64 million, or 3 cents per share, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings were US$780 million, or 31 cents per share, in the latest quarter, 4 cents ahead of analysts' estimates.

Revenue grew 63 percent to US$2.59 billion, from US$1.59 billion. Analysts, on average, had expected revenue of US$2.35 billion, according to FactSet.

Facebook's stock soared 12 percent in extended trading after the results came out.

Facebook Inc., which turns 10 years old next week, had 1.23 billion monthly users worldwide at the end of 2013. Of those, 757 million signed in at least once a day, up 22 percent from a year earlier.

Monthly mobile users stood at 945 million, up 39 percent. Daily mobile users grew 49 percent to 556 million.

Fifty-three percent of Facebook's ad revenue came from mobile during the quarter, up from 49 percent in the third quarter.

Facebook continues to grow its share of the worldwide digital advertising and within that, mobile advertising market. It reaped nearly 6 percent of the world's digital ad revenue in 2013, up from 4 percent in 2012, according to research firm eMarketer. Online search leader Google, meanwhile, accounted for a 32-percent share of the market in 2013.

When it comes to mobile ad spending, Facebook accounted for an 18 percent share of the total amount companies spent in 2013, according to eMarketer. That's up from 5 percent a year earlier.

Facebook's stock jumped US$6.41 to US$59.94 in extended trading. The stock had closed the regular trading session down US$1.61, or 3 percent, at US$53.53 before the earnings announcement.

Through Wednesday's close, the stock had gained 51 percent in the past six months, far more than the 6.4 percent increase for the Standard & Poor's 500 index, which the Menlo Park, California, company recently joined.

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