Via Financial Times

Shares in Facebook rose nearly 3 per cent on Wednesday after the company topped third-quarter earnings forecasts, in a sign that recent scandals and heightened regulatory scrutiny have failed to spook advertisers.

Earnings in the three months to the end of September stood at $2.12 a share, up 20 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2018, and well above consensus analyst forecasts of $1.91, as compiled by S&P Capital IQ.

Revenues in the quarter rose 29 per cent year-on-year to $17.7bn, just ahead of analyst expectations of $17.4bn. Net income in the quarter was $6.1bn, a 19 per cent increase from a year ago.

Shares in the company rose close to 3 per cent to around $193 in after-hours trading.

“We had a good quarter and our community and business continue to grow,” said Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. “We are focused on making progress on major social issues and building new experiences that improve people’s lives around the world.”

In its first two sets of earnings of 2019, Facebook set aside $3bn and $2bn respectively to cover the cost of a record $5bn settlement it agreed in July with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations.

But the company now faces a slew of other investigations from US and EU regulators over antitrust concerns, amid calls by some politicians for new regulations to curb the power of big tech companies.

Separately, the company also announced on Wednesday that Dr Susan Desmond-Hellmann, the chief executive of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was stepping down from the company’s board after around five years in the role. In a statement, she said that she took the decision due to “increasing demands from my CEO role, my extended family, and my own health”.

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Facebook said it would look for a replacement for Dr Desmond-Hellmann, who was also serving as its lead independent director, in coming months.