Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in his first public appearance since the company's disastrous initial public offering, says Wall Street doesn't understand Facebook's business potential in mobile. Losing more than half their value since May, Facebook shares gained more than 3 percent.
Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg soothed investors in his first major public appearance since the No. 1 social network's rocky May IPO, breathing life into its struggling shares after hinting at new growth areas from mobile to search.
The 28-year-old co-founder looked confident in a gray T-shirt and jeans, asking Wall Street to be patient as the company developed new products, addressing issues such as employee morale, and dashing rumors Facebook may build a smartphone.
Facebook became the first U.S. company to debut on stock markets with a value of more than $100 billion. But it has since lost more than half of its capitalization as investors fret about slowing growth and the company's challenges making money as users shift from PCs to mobile devices.
Zuckerberg, who has himself lost billions of dollars on paper since Facebook's market debut, admitted to disappointment about his company's crumbling share price, but argued Wall Street has yet to grasp the full potential of its fledgling mobile business.
His comments helped drive Facebook shares up more than 3 percent after hours to above $20, building on a 3.3 percent gain in regular trade on Tuesday. The stock is still well off its $38 debut price.
"It was positive just to see him out there speaking," said Raymond James analyst Aaron Kessler. "He was hinting that the stock was undervalued, and we'll see about that. But he's looking at this business as a multiyear investment, even if investors are looking for results much sooner."
Facebook's recently released mobile ads are already delivering better results for advertisers than the traditional "display" ads that appear on the right-hand side of the social networking service on PCs, Zuckerberg said.
"One of the main things that I think is misunderstood right now is how fundamentally good" the company's mobile prospects are, he said.
While declining to offer details, Zuckerberg hinted that the company was halfway through a cycle to "retool" and offer new advertising products. He also said he believed search could be a ripe area of growth for Facebook and was working to offer a competitive search product -- comments that likely interested executives at Google Inc, one of Facebook's fiercest competitors.
Facebook has a team working on the social network's existing search feature, which already garners roughly 1 billion queries every day, Zuckerberg noted. But at some point he said Facebook would focus its efforts more intently on developing a full-featured search service, which he described as a "big opportunity."