Facebook-parent Meta on Wednesday reported that it grew sales by 3% during the first three months of the year, reversing a trend of three consecutive quarters of revenue declines and far exceeding Wall Street analysts’ expectations.
Meta shares jumped as much as 12% in after-hours trading following the report, continuing the company’s strong trajectory since Zuckerberg announced that 2023 would be a “year of efficiency.”
Another bright spot: user growth was relatively strong compared to recent quarters. The number of monthly active people on Meta’s family of apps grew 5% from the prior year to more than 3.8 billion and Facebook daily active users increased 4% to more than 2 billion.
“We had a good quarter and our community continues to grow,” Zuckerberg said in a statement Wednesday. “We’re also becoming more efficient so we can build better products faster and put ourselves in a stronger position to deliver our long term vision.”
But Meta has a long hill to climb.
The company also reported that profits declined by nearly a quarter compared to the same period in the prior year to $5.7 billion. Price per advertisement — an indicator of the health of the company’s core digital ad business — also decreased by 17% from the year prior.
Meta has been in the midst of a massive restructuring, as it attempts to recover from a perfect storm of heightened competition, lingering recession fears resulting in fewer ad dollars and a multibillion dollar effort to build a future version of the internet it calls the metaverse. Meta said in November it would eliminate 11,000 jobs, the single largest round of cuts in its history. And in March, Zuckerberg announced Meta would lay off another 10,000 employees. All told, the cuts will shrink Meta’s workforce by a quarter.
Meta took a hit of more than $1 billion related to the restructuring in the March quarter, and said it will realize additional charges of around $500 million related to 2023 layoffs by the end of the year.
Zuckerberg said on a call with analysts Wednesday that when Meta started its “efficiency work” late last year, “our business wasn’t performing as well as I wanted, but now we’re increasingly doing this work from a position of strength.”
The company said it expects revenue to grow again in the current quarter compared to the prior year. And it slightly lowered its expectations for full-year expenses, potentially buoying investor optimism.
“The year of efficiency is off to a stronger than expected start for Meta,” Insider Intelligence principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said in a statement. But she added that the company “can’t afford to sit still in this environment.”
Like other tech companies, Meta has recently read investor cues and taken to playing up its focus on artificial intelligence rather than the metaverse. The shift comes as Meta contends with the popularity of AI tools from tech firms like Microsoft and OpenAI.
In his statement with the results Wednesday, Zuckerberg said: “Our AI work is driving good results across our apps and business.” He added in the call that the company’s AI work includes efforts to build AI chat experiences in WhatsApp and Messenger, as well as visual creation tools for posts on Facebook and Instagram and advertisements.