Meta more than doubles Q1 profit but revenue guidance pulls shares down after-hours

Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta said Wednesday its first-quarter profit more than doubled, boosted by higher advertising revenue and a 6% increase on the average price of ads on its platforms. But its shares dropped sharply in after-hours trading following lukewarm revenue guidance.

Meta Platforms Inc. earned $12.37 billion, or $4.71 per share, in the January-March period. That’s up from $5.71 billion, or $2.20 per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue rose 27% to $36.46 billion from $28.65 billion.

Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $4.32 per share on revenue of $36.14 billion, according to a poll by FactSet.

For the current quarter, the Menlo Park, California-based company said it expects revenue between $36.5 billion and $39 billion. Analysts are expecting revenue of $38.25 billion for the second quarter, which is higher than the midpoint of Meta’s guidance range.

Meta also said it expects its 2024 capital expenses to be higher than anticipated due to its investments in artificial intelligence. It is forecasting expenses in the range of $35 billion to $40 billion, up from its earlier guidance of $30 billion to $37 billion.

The company has been investing heavily in AI and earlier this month unveiled a new set of artificial intelligence systems that are powering what CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls “the most intelligent AI assistant that you can freely use.”

Meta, along with leading AI developers Google and OpenAI, and startups such as Anthropic, Cohere and France’s Mistral, have been churning out new AI language models and hoping to persuade customers they’ve got the smartest, handiest or most efficient chatbots.

“Meta’s earnings should serve as a stark warning for companies reporting this earnings season,” said Thomas Monteiro, senior analyst at “Even though the company did beat estimates in all top- and bottom-line metrics, it didn’t matter as much as the reported lowering revenue expectations for Q2. This is the exact opposite of what Tesla did yesterday and goes to show that investors are currently looking at the near future with heavy mistrust.”

On Tuesday, electric vehicle maker Tesla reported that its first-quarter net income plummeted 55%. But it said it would accelerate production of new, more affordable vehicles, and on Wednesday its stock rose 12%.

The number of people using Meta’s apps, meanwhile, continued to increase, with 3.24 billion users on average for March in its “family of apps” that includes Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. That’s up 7% year-over-year. Beginning this quarter, the company will no longer disclose user figures for Facebook.

Meta had 69,329 workers as of March 31, a decrease of 10% year-over-year. Zuckerberg called 2023 the “year of efficiency” and the company laid off thousands to reduce expenses.

Meta’s shares fell 16% in after-hours trading. Meta’s stock price has more than doubled over the past year thanks to a rebound in online advertising.

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