Facebook’s first quarter surpasses expectations

Facebook’s first-quarter earnings and revenue grew sharply, surpassing Wall Street’s expectations thanks to an 82 percent increase in advertising revenue.

The social network said Wednesday that it earned $642 million, or 25 cents per share, in the January-March quarter, up from $219 million, or 9 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. Adjusted earnings were 34 cents per share. Revenue rose 71 percent to $2.5 billion.

Analysts anticipated earnings of 24 cents per share on revenue of $2.36 billion.

Facebook also said that its finance chief, David Ebersman, is leaving on June 1 after five years. He’ll be replaced by David Wehner, currently vice president of corporate finance and business planning.

Indexes drop, heating fuels slip, gasoline flat

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 12.72 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 16,501.65 on Wednesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 4.16 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,875.39. The Nasdaq composite fell 34.49 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,126.97.

U.S. crude for May delivery fell 31 cents to close at $101.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Wholesale gasoline was flat at $3.09 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $2.98 a gallon. Natural gas slipped 1 cent to $4.73 per 1,000 cubic feet. Brent crude, an international benchmark for oil, fell 16 cents to $109.11 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

French economist: Wealth gap threatens democracy

Thomas Piketty, the French economist who helped popularize the notion of a privileged 1 percent, sounds a grim warning in his new book: The U.S. economy has begun to decay into the pattern of aristocratic Europe of the 19th century. Hard work will matter less, inherited wealth more. The fortunes of the few will unsettle the foundations of democracy.

The research Piketty showcases in his book, “Capital in the 21st Century,” has set the economics field ablaze. Supporters cite his work as proof that the wealth gap must be narrowed. Critics dismiss him as a left-wing ideologue.

Greek yogurt maker gets $750 million investment

Greek yogurt maker Chobani has secured a $750 million investment from investment firm TPG Capital to help fund its growth. The privately held food company said Wednesday that as part of the deal, TPG will have representation on the company’s board. Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya will serve as its chairman.

Chobani was founded in 2005 and is based in New Berlin, N.Y.

 

– From news service reports