Facebook executives warned signs of stability in its advertising business this month may not last, as it reported a surge in users and profit in Q1.

The company emerged from the quarter with solid results despite the ongoing Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, as revenue rose 18 per cent year-on-year to $17.7 billion and net income more than doubled to $4.9 billion.

Despite an earlier warning, advertising revenue grew 17 per cent to $17.4 billion.

During an earnings call, CFO David Wehner said spending began to stabilise in the first three weeks of this month, with advertising revenue coming in “approximately flat” compared with April 2019. However, he said negative economic forecasts “suggest the potential for an even more severe advertising industry contraction” in Q2.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) also expressed concern “the economic fallout will last longer than people are currently anticipating”.

The company did not provide revenue forecasts.

Zuckerberg highlighted increased engagement, with daily active users (DAUs) across Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger up 12 per cent to 2.36 billion in Q1.

In areas hardest hit by the virus, he said messaging volume increased more than 50 per cent, while voice and video calling more than doubled on Messenger and WhatsApp. He added more than 700 million DAUs participated in calls on the two platforms alone.

However, Wehner said Facebook expects to “lose some of this increased engagement when shelter-in-place restrictions are relaxed”.