Why Shares of Facebook, Inc. Were Up 53% in 2017

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What happened

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Facebook Inc.'s (NASDAQ: FB) share price rose 53.4% last year, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, after the company had a stellar year of user growth, several earnings beats, and a better-than-expected second half of the year.

So what

Facebook started off the year with the company's share price jumping nearly 18% between the beginning of January and the end of February. Investors were likely anticipating strong fourth-quarter 2016 results from the company, which were reported in February -- and they weren't disappointed.

Sales hit $8.8 billion in the quarter, an increase of 51% from the year-ago quarter, and non-GAAP diluted earnings per share of $1.41 easily outpaced analysts' consensus estimate of $1.31. The company also saw solid user growth for the full-year 2016, with monthly active users (MAUs) reaching 1.86 billon at the end of December, a 17% year-over-year increase.

The company's share price made an additional 15% jump in July after Facebook blew past Wall Street's earnings estimate of $1.12 per share and, instead, earned $1.32. Investors were also pleased to see that Facebook's top line jumped 45% year over year and the fact that the company reached the staggering milestone of having 2 billion users on its social-media platform.

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Facebook then smashed the consensus earnings estimate of $1.28 per share in the third quarter and, instead, delivered $1.59. The company continued humming along for the rest of the year, though most of its share-price gains were made in the first nine months of 2017.

Now what

Facebook's shares are up about 1% so far this year, and investors may have to temper their expectations for the company's performance in the coming months. Facebook's management said that expenses are going to increase between 45% to 60% in 2018 and that capital-expenditures spending will double. That means that the revenue slowdown Facebook was expecting last year may materialize later this year.

This doesn't mean that 2018 won't be great for Facebook, but it may look different than 2017's gains.

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Chris Neiger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.