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Facebook prospectus shows jump in users, fall in profits

SEC requirements are a bitch

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Facebook's latest pre-IPO filing shows the social network giant ramped up to 901 million users, who produce 3.2 billion likes and comments a day.

Oh, and it said its net income slipped on the year as operating expenses ballooned.

The updated S1 filing covered the period up to March 31, and bombarded potential investors with lots of interesting graphics, including that jump from 431 million active users last year to 901 million this year. Hard-headed Wall Street types will be pleased to know 300 million pics are being uploaded a day and the site has also spawned 125 billion friendships.

However, some killjoys, including the regulatory authorities, seem to think that what really matters in a financial statement is financial information.

These showed the friend machine turning in $1.06bn dollars in the quarter ending March 31, a cracking 44.7 per cent up on last year's $731m. However net income slipped from $233m a year ago, to $205m this year, a 12 per cent drop.

The main culprit was simply a dramatic rise in costs and expenses, up from $343m a year ago to $381m. The figures don't take account of more recent expenses such as Mark Zuckerberg's $1bn go-it-alone purchase of Instagram, or this morning's hoovering up of a sack load of old AOL IP.

The exciting user information and boring financial info was followed by the usual boilerplate of, like, really dull risks and business stuff.

Does anyone really care that in 2011 and the first quarter of 2012 that 19 per cent and 15 per cent of Facebook's revenues derived from Zynga, or third-parties associated with it, and that any screw-ups on Zynga's part, or a falling out with it could hit Facebook's business hard?

Or that its costs are "growing quickly, which could harm our business and profitability". Like they have already.

Or that "Certain of our user metrics are subject to inherent challenges in measurement, and real or perceived inaccuracies in such metrics may harm our reputation and negatively affect our business" and "We estimate that false or duplicate accounts may have represented approximately 5-6% of our MAUs as of December 31, 2011."

Or that the Instagram, which Zuckerberg sealed the other week, will cost the firm $300m cash and 23 million shares. ®

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