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Facebook's international slowdown a possible cause for concern

8 months ago by Jon Marino in Features

The biggest social network in the world may have finally hit a hiring slowdown. Facebook ($NASDAQ:FB) job postings slid by about 7% in the second quarter, a potential negative alternative data trend as the company prepares for earnings Wednesday July 24 once the market closes. 

That's the bad news. The good news is that Mark Zuckerberg's social media behemoth is still an advertising titan, and showing little in the way of weakness. Shares are up nearly 50% for the first half (and the first two weeks of the second half) of 2019; analysts tracked by Zacks Investment Research are looking for EPS of $1.90, reflecting increased expectations despite last quarter's miss. 

Still, a closer look at the alternative data shows Facebook is sticking to its knitting - the US, where its advantage over other forms of social media is enormous - and less on international expansion. Countries including Poland, Italy, Ireland, Germany and Sweden have seen job postings taper off in 2019 - as well as one large Facebook international hub: Great Britain (shown below). There, Facebook has reduced job postings 20% from the beginning of this quarter. In the US, however, Facebook grew job postings more than 12% in 2019 - keeping growth flat across the second quarter. 

That said, it remains to be seen how a potential Federal Trade Commission fine reportedly as high as $5 billion - over Facebook's privacy practices - will impact stock, or hiring. 

Finally, our chart tracking Facebook's hiring throughout the years shows that, after years of global growth, its job postings trajectory has finally slowed. Although it still posted growth for postings through the second quarter this year, the question of whether this is attributable to a slowdown in business, or just a temporary hiccup, remains as the social network is facing regulators' and legislators' inquiries in the US and abroad.

After being one of the best IPO investments of the last decade, it is safe to say Mark Zuckerberg won't accept a slowdown of any kind for too long. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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