By Alexei Oreskovic SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc's fast-growing mobile advertising business helped drive a 61 percent increase in revenue during the second quarter, beating Wall Street's financial targets and sending shares to a record-high in after-hours trading on Wednesday. Facebook now counts 1.5 million advertising customers and the company's ad business saw strong growth across all of its geographic regions, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. Investors bid up shares of Facebook roughly 5 percent to $75.13 in after-hours trading on Wednesday, giving the Internet company a roughly $190 billion valuation, putting it on par with IBM Corp. "It might be more expensive from a market cap perspective, but I donβt think anyone was expecting this level of profitability," JMP Securities analyst Ronald Josey said. Facebook's operating margin expanded to 48 percent of revenue in the second quarter, up from 31 percent in the year-ago period.
By Ryan Vlastelica NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks ended mostly higher on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 closing at a record on Apple's bullish results, though Boeing weighed on the Dow and conflicts in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip kept the broader market's gains in check. The Nasdaq Biotech index jumped 2.2 percent in its fourth straight day of gains. Apple Inc gave one of the biggest lifts to the market, rising 2.6 percent to $97.19 as concerns faded about the iPhone maker's margins. Dow component Microsoft Corp rose 0.1 percent to $44.87 after the company said it aimed to get its money-losing Nokia phone unit to break even within two years.
General Motors Co on Wednesday announced six recalls covering 717,950 vehicles in the United States for varying reasons, although none were related to ignition switch issues. GM has recalled nearly 15 million vehicles worldwide this year for potentially lethal issues with ignition switches. Vehicles involved in the recalls announced Wednesday have been linked to two crashes and three injuries but no deaths, GM said. Most of GM's recalls this year have been for older models, but many of the recalls announced Wednesday are for current-model vehicles, including about 57,000 Chevrolet Impala sedans from the 2014 model year for the loss of power steering.
Faced with mounting pressure from competitors, AT&T has unbundled service and device charges, and slashed its family data plan and shared value plan prices as it tries to attract customers in a nearly saturated market. "What we saw happen throughout the second quarter were very aggressive promotions by our competitors but all the while our churn decreased," Ralph de la Vega, chief executive of AT&T mobility, told Reuters. "We are confident that what we saw in Q2 was part of the transition we had to make to go from service to equipment revenue in NEXT," he said, referring to a pricing plan that allows customers to pay directly for their devices in exchange for lower service pricing. The plan has resulted in a lower average revenue per user, but higher equipment revenue, as customers take on the majority of the burden of paying for their devices.
The parent of Standard & Poor's, which is defending against a $5 billion lawsuit by the federal government over its credit ratings, said on Wednesday it may soon also face U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges over another set of ratings. In a regulatory filing, McGraw-Hill Financial Inc said it received a "Wells notice" on July 22 indicating the SEC is weighing filing civil charges for alleged securities law violations over S&P's ratings of six commercial mortgage-backed securities transactions issued in 2011. Catherine Mathis, an S&P spokeswoman, said it has been reported the SEC was examining its decision in 2011 to "pull" ratings of a CMBS transaction.