Facebook reported US$5.1 billion in profit, or US$1.74 per share, compared with the average estimates of US$5.1 billion and US$1.72 per share among research gathered by Thomson Reuters. While several analysts downgraded the stock, others say they still have faith in the company to grow over the long-term.
That "bombshell", as one analyst termed it, played into concerns on Wall Street that Facebook's model could be under threat after a year that has been dominated by efforts to head off concerns over privacy and fake news.
The company issued a warning to investors about a deceleration of growth in its userbase, leading to a stock drop of around 20 percent. Shares were trading at $175.75, down about 19 per cent, nearing midday.
"Unlike Netflix, whose quarterly shortfall we saw as temporary, here we see an evolution of the story, albeit a portion of which we expected", said Daniel Salmon, analyst at BMO Capital Markets. "It just seems like the magnitude is beyond anything we've seen". Apparently, Facebook believes we are too stupid to know what's best for us, and that a computer algorithm will do a better job of choosing what we should see, than we could do for ourselves.
Even with the stock selloff, Facebook remains massively profitable and has a growth profile traditional media companies would kill for. Worldwide daily user growth for Facebook's namesake service slid for its sixth straight quarter, bringing it to almost 1.5 billion users in the second quarter. That surprised investors because of the belief that the new laws wouldn't hurt revenue.
"This is a direct result of scale as it becomes increasingly hard to grow at such high rates when a company hits this size", Windsor wrote.
Windsor added that Facebook is forced to hire more people to handle tasks such as filtering inappropriate content after discovering the limits of artificial intelligence.
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"Weaknesses in AI are forcing [Facebook] to keep hiring humans to do the jobs that the machines are incapable of", he said.
The erosion in the value of Facebook as it is perceived on Wall Street involves some staggering numbers.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a new feel-good statistic on a conference call with financial analysts on Wednesday: Some 2.5 billion people - a third of the world's population - now use at least one of Facebook's products each month. "Looking ahead, we will continue to invest heavily in security and privacy".
Facebook's valuation stood at $630 billion at Wednesday's closing bell.
"Facebook might have its wings clipped, but it is still a remarkable money-making machine". Doom and gloom for Facebook, it seems.
For Facebook, financial stumbles are rare.
Despite signs of support from other investors the bid is unlikely to succeed due to Facebook's dual share structure, which gives Class B shares, of which Zuckerberg owns 75% of the total, 10 times the voting power of Class A ones.