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Facebook hits 2.27 billion monthly active users as earnings stabilize

Mark Zuckerberg said in a press release that the company's apps serve more than 2 billion people each day.
Facebook CEO Zuckerberg testifies before a U.S. Senate joint hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg listens while testifying before a joint Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees hearing regarding the company's use and protection of user data, on Capitol Hill on April 10, 2018.Leah Millis / Reuters file

Facebook avoided a repeat of its disastrous second quarter on Tuesday, reporting that the company's social network now serves 2.27 billion monthly users.

The company announced that it generated revenue of $13.7 billion in the third quarter of the year, slightly below what Wall Street analysts expected — but good enough to avoid another stock price plunge.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive officer, said in a press release that the company's suite of services — Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp — now serve more than 2 billion people every day.

"We're building the best services for private messaging and stories, and there are huge opportunities ahead in video and commerce as well," Zuckerberg said.

Facebook generated $5.1 billion in profit this quarter.

While the days of its meteoric growth in the U.S. are over, Facebook said it added users in the Asia-Pacific region and in other parts of the world, more than offsetting a slight dip in European users. Zuckerberg said on an earnings call with analysts that the company believed Facebook was "close to saturated in developed countries."

That is a challenge for Facebook since it makes far more money per user in the U.S. and Europe than in other parts of the world. Facebook said it made $27.41 per user in the U.S. and Canada in the third quarter versus $2.67 per user in the Asia-Pacific region and $1.82 in the rest of the world.

Zuckerberg said on the earnings call that users were engaging with more video and ephemeral features such as "stories," which it is not yet good at monetizing — adding that 2019 will be an "investment year" for that area.

In after-hours trading and minutes after announcing its earnings, Facebook stock dipped sharply but recovered to add about 1.7 percent as of 4:24 p.m. ET.

In July, Facebook shares plunged more than 20 percent after the company warned that it would be less profitable in the years ahead.

Facebook has also endured a series of controversies including ongoing concerns about foreign influence campaigns ahead of the 2018 U.S. midterm elections and a security breach that revealed the personal information of more than 14 million users.