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Associated Press
Michael Goodwin of HTC displays an HTC First cellphone with Facebook interface. Facebook is banking on mobile ads.

Mobile ads driving up revenue at Facebook

– Facebook Inc.’s first-quarter sales topped estimates, a sign that Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is making headway in a drive to make more money from mobile ads.

First-quarter sales rose 38 percent to $1.46 billion, Facebook said in a statement today. That compares with the average estimate of $1.44 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

So far this year, Facebook has unveiled new software for smartphones, added tools for marketers and revamped News Feed, the first thing members see when logging onto the network of more than 1 billion.

Investments in upgrades to attract more users on mobile devices and advertisers are beginning to pay off, according to Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc. in Los Angeles.

“They’re monetizing it better and better and better,” said Pachter. “They’re making progress – and dramatic progress.”

During the first quarter, mobile made up about 30 percent of advertising revenue, up from 23 percent during the fourth quarter. Pachter had predicted about 25 percent.

Facebook, based in Menlo Park, Calif., was little changed in extended trading. The shares declined 1.2 percent to $27.43 at the close in New York, leaving them down 28 percent since the company’s initial public offering a year ago.

First-quarter profit excluding certain items was 12 cents a share, compared with the average analyst projection of 13 cents.

Operating costs rose 60 percent to $1.09 billion, with Facebook adding staff and investing money into computer systems and software.

Facebook is projected to grab 13 percent of U.S. mobile-ad dollars this year, up from 9.5 percent in 2012, according to EMarketer Inc.