Facebook (FB) shares have hit record highs amid investor optimism on the social media giant’s upcoming Q1 earnings report. Facebook is slated to release the results on Wednesday of this week.
On Monday morning, trading of FB shares opened up from last week’s high-note close, hitting values above $152 in the first minutes. At the time of writing, FB was trading at $151.88, up 1.08 percent.
What this signals is that investors are keen on Facebook meeting or exceeding expectations. The Street average pegs the top line at $7.85 billion for the quarter, meaning some $1.12 earnings per share on the bottom line — with a whisper number of $1.21 eps.
We’ll see how Facebook fares for certain in the coming days. Strong or weak earnings aside, however, there may be larger problems rising beneath the surface — a subject which PYMNTS’ Karen Webster recently covered.
The past few weeks have seen a few key developments in the broader Facebook ecosystem as the company, heftier than ever, plods forward with more growth in mind. First, it was all about the bots on Messenger and AR/VR at F8.
Of the former, Facebook recently announced that Messenger surpassed 1.2 billion global users, the same as messaging application WhatsApp. Messenger has seen user numbers grow from 1 billion last July. Across both Messenger and WhatsApp, Mark Zuckerberg said that more than 60 billion messages are sent each day.
Along with Instagram’s 600 million users, these numbers bode well for Facebook’s peripheral growth in its upcoming earnings report. While these are important metrics, all eyes will likely be on the company’s ad revenue.
Facebook has been testing ads and buy buttons in Messenger. As of now, the company hasn’t yet raked in substantial revenue from either Messenger or WhatsApp, though this soon looks to change.
On the VR end, Facebook recently announced the first major offering since acquiring Oculus three years ago: Facebook Spaces, a sort of social VR experience.
Anyone who owns an Oculus can log in via Facebook to connect with friends who also own the VR system. Avatars can interact in 3D space via text chat, video calls, drawing or by watching 360 videos.
This marks the first time Facebook has integrated a physical hardware product into its online platform. And while Spaces is currently only available on Oculus Rift, the company has a goal of offering the experience on all VR platforms.
Still, don’t expect too much too soon of the tech. In Facebook’s last earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg noted consumers are likely a decade away from the full potential of VR technology.
In other news of note from the Facebook space, it recently came to light that the social media giant, along with Google, were the heretofore unnamed victims of a combined $100 million phishing attack earlier this year.
At the end of March, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) announced plans to charge a man allegedly responsible for a $100 million business email compromise scam. The corporate victims, now known to be Facebook and Google, weren’t named at the time.
The DoJ alleges that the man, Evaldas Rimašauskas, used a business email compromise (BEC) scam to trick Facebook and Google into paying fake invoices, impersonating manufacturer Quanta Computer. Rimašauskas has since been charged with one count of money wire fraud, three counts of money laundering and one count of aggravated identity theft.
The news that the two tech giants were the victims of such an attack comes as instances of BEC fraud have been on the rise across the globe.
Research from Proofpoint found a 45 percent spike in BEC attacks in the last quarter of 2016 compared to Q3. Additionally, research from Trend Micro found $1 billion total losses worldwide in 2016 due to BEC scams. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it had found that BEC scams led to $3.1 billion in attempted wire fraud between October 2013 and May 2016.
Both Facebook and Google have said that they were able to recover the funds lost.
The incident indicates the urgency for major companies to shore up security across all aspects of their operations. While Facebook and Google’s cores remained secure, the external, human element was able to be tricked by scammers.
The same is true in the case of the recent media and entertainment companies whose digital content is being held for ransom due to a security breach at a post-production company, as well as the digital heists taking advantage of holes in the periphery of the SWIFT network.
In the case of Facebook, while a breach of user data, which now includes payment cards, is undoubtedly far more secure, the revelation of Facebook’s phishing victimhood could give users pause before engaging with buy buttons or P2P functionality.
While Facebook isn’t relying on payments by any stretch of the imagination, it is focusing on ratcheting up its use cases and, combined with other issues on the rise, may ultimately not be able to afford too many consumers acting on the side of caution when it comes to engaging with the social media platform.