Meta shares soared 15 percent in extended trading after the company tripled its profit and posted sharply higher revenue in the final quarter of 2023.
The California-based tech giant announced it earned $14 billion, or $5.33 per share, from October to December last year – up from $4.65 billion, or $1.76 per share, a year prior.
Revenue, meanwhile, jumped 25 percent in the quarter to $40.11 billion. This was up from $32.2 billion a year earlier – the fastest growth for any period since mid-2021 – as its online ad market continued to rebound.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement: ‘We had a good quarter as our community and business continue to grow. We’ve made a lot of progress on our vision for advancing AI and the metaverse.’
The company, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, also announced its first ever quarterly dividend of 50 cents a share and an additional $50 billion in share buybacks.
Buybacks and dividends help boost stock prices by rewarding investors with cash simply for holding stock in the company. Meta’s first cash dividend of 50 cents a share will be paid out on March 26, and on a quarterly basis going forward.
It appears that the company’s self-described ‘year of efficiency’ has paid off.
Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $4.82 per share on revenue of $39.1 billion, according to FactSet Research.
Following a disastrous 2022 in which its share price tumbled, the company put an emphasis on cost cutting last year – which involved thousands of workers being laid off.
The company said it had 67,317 employees as of December 31, 2023, a decrease of 22 percent year-over-year.
Meta also attributed advances in AI and improvements to its ad business for the success, which is growing faster than rival Google.
Meta’s blowout results come amid reports from other tech rivals, including Amazon and Apple.
The news comes a day after Zuckerberg apologized to families who said their children had been harmed by social media during a hearing in the US Senate.
He appeared alongside TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, Discord boss Jason Citron, X chief Linda Yaccarino and Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel with former UK deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Meta board member absent.
All were grilled by Republicans about how they protect teenagers and children on their respective apps.
‘I’m sorry for everything you’ve all gone through,’ Zuckerberg said. ‘It’s terrible. No one should have to go through the things that your families have suffered.’
Zuckerberg and Senator Marsha Blackburn got into a heated back-and-forth when the Tennessee Republican accused Facebook of facilitating sex trafficking.
Blackburn at one point accused Zuckerberg of wanting to turn Meta into the ‘premier sex trafficking site in this country.’
Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham used the occasion to chastise the Silicon Valley titans, claiming they do not do enough to protect kids from pedophiles and harmful content.
The bosses insisted that they do their utmost to shield youngsters from anything inappropriate, but conceded that they cannot always keep track of accounts due to the size and scale of their products.