NEW YORK — Nearly three-quarters of Facebook's advertising revenue now comes from mobile ads, as many more users access the social network on smartphones and other handheld gadgets.
On that front, the company is doing fine — better, even, than it has in previous quarters. But the rate of its overall revenue growth slowed down in the first three months of this year, causing the high-flying stock to fall in extended trading after the results came out. Wednesday marked the first time since early 2013 that Facebook failed to surpass Wall Street's expectations.
Shares of the Menlo Park, California-based company fell $1.79, or 2.1 percent, to $82.84 in after-hours trading. Even so, the stock's closing price of $84.63 shows an 8.5 percent increase since the start of the year.
Facebook has grown mobile ad revenue steadily since 2012, when it started showing ads for the devices' smaller screens. In the previous quarter, mobile represented 69 percent of total advertising revenue. Facebook had 1.44 billion monthly active users as of March, up 13 percent from a year earlier. The number of users who accessed Facebook on mobile devices at least once a month grew 24 percent to 1.25 billion.
The company reported adjusted earnings of 42 cents per share in the January-March quarter, above the 41 cents per share that analysts polled by FactSet were expecting. Revenue increased 46 percent to $3.54 billion, from $2.5 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected $3.56 billion.
Net income declined as Facebook's expenses grew 83 percent from a year earlier. The company earned $512 million, or 18 cents per share, down 20 percent from $642 million, or 25 cents per share.
Facebook, which bought the popular photo-sharing app Instagram and the messaging service WhatsApp, has been coming out with its own stand-alone mobile apps to capture more of the time people spend on phones. Besides its Messenger app, though, Facebook's home-grown efforts have had limited success.
On Wednesday, the company introduced Hello, a voice-calling app designed for Android phones. In essence, it's meant to replace the voice dialer on your phone. But based on Facebook's inability to persuade users to install its Home app, which lets Facebook take over the home screen on Android, users may not be too keen on replacing existing smartphone tools with Facebook-branded versions.
Facebook finance chief David Wehner said mobile "continues to be a key driver" of Facebook's growth. He said Facebook will continue to experiment with apps for mobile. For now, the money-making focus is on Facebook itself and, slowly, on popular, established apps such as Instagram.