Meta earnings beat market expectations as ads revive

Meta earnings beat market expectations as ads revive

Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg says he is seeing strong engagement across the tech firm's apps, including its freshly launched Threads that challenges the social media platform formerly known as Twitter
Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg says he is seeing strong engagement across the tech firm's apps, including its freshly launched Threads that challenges the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Photo: JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Getty Images via AFP
Source: AFP

Facebook parent Meta on Wednesday beat market expectations for quarterly earnings powered by a reviving digital ad business.

Meta reported a profit of $7.8 billion on $32 billion in revenue during the recently ended quarter, as the number of people using Facebook monthly rose to 3.03 billion.

"We had a good quarter," Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in an earnings release.

"We continue to see strong engagement across our apps and we have the most exciting roadmap I've seen in a while..."

Meta had suffered a rough 2022 amid a souring economic climate, which forced advertisers to cut back on spending, and Apple's data privacy changes, which allowed users to block ad targeting, the pillar of Meta’s business.

But like the other big US tech companies, Meta's share price has had a stellar 2023 that Zuckerberg in January said would be the "year of efficiency".

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"With two straight quarters of positive revenue growth and the first quarter of double-digit revenue growth since late 2021, Meta’s year of efficiency is off to a strong start," said Insider Intelligence analyst Debra Aho Williamson.

"There's a lot to feel good about when it comes to Meta right now," Williamson added.

In its earnings release, the company said that the number of ads on its various applications rose by 34 percent year-on-year in the second quarter.

Analysts noted the greater interest from advertisers in Reels, the video format copied from TikTok, and a less gloomy economic context conducive to marketing spending.

VR costs

Meta's vow of austerity on spending brought an unprecedented round of cost-cutting that saw the company lay off tens of thousands of workers since last November.

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Meta said it had 71,469 employees at the end of June, a decrease of 14 percent from the same time a year earlier, according to the earnings report.

The company has faced criticism over its gamble on the metaverse, the world of virtual reality that Meta believes will be the next frontier online and led it to change its name from Facebook in 2021.

This to date has proved to be a bad bet with customers so far unenthused by the technology, even though Apple will enter the space some time next year with the release of its expensive VisionPro headset.

Meta said in the earnings report that it expects its operating losses at the unit responsible for VR to "increase meaningfully" in the months ahead.

The company has also jumped to take advantage of the chaos at Twitter, which has now been renamed to X.

Earlier this month Meta rushed out the release of Threads, a text-only app that saw more than 100 million downloads in just days, though the users' long term interest remains unproven.

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On AI, Zuckerberg has chosen a different track than Microsoft and its partnership with OpenAI.

Meta instead has endorsed a more "open source" approach and made its Llama generative AI technology available to researchers and companies to adapt to their own needs.

However, investors will be curious to know how Meta expands use of generative AI for its own products.

Zuckerberg indicated in a recent podcast that his company is working on an AI platform that would allow creators and advertisers to more efficiently work together.

Source: AFP

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