Meta stock pops 13% on guidance, sales increase

Meta stock pops 13% on guidance, sales increase

Mark Zuckerberg told the world in Oct. 2021 that he was rebranding Facebook to Meta as the company pushes toward the metaverse.

Facebook | via Reuters

Meta shares gained more than 13% when markets opened Thursday, as analysts and investors digested positive guidance for the upcoming fiscal quarter and an unexpected sales increase for the first quarter of 2023.

The company reported strong results on Wednesday, posting a beat on the top and bottom lines. Meta reported first-quarter earnings per share of $2.20, beating the consensus estimate of $2.03, and revenue of $28.65 billion versus the $27.65 billion expected by analysts.

Growth in China advertising spend helped lift the company’s first-quarter numbers, with chief financial officer Susan Li telling analysts the bump “was due in part to dropping shipping costs and easing Covid lockdown for those advertisers.”

Meta’s rally was also driven by optimistic guidance for the current quarter. The company expects second-quarter revenue to land between $29.5 billion and $32 billion.

As with other large-cap tech companies, analysts expect that artificial intelligence will be a positive point for Meta.

“Developing more open source models (including LLMs) and helping create an open ecosystem is another area of focus as an open ecosystem should enable META to stay at the forefront and drive infrastructure efficiency over time,” Morgan Stanley’s Brian Nowak wrote on Thursday, referring to large language models used for artificial intelligence. Morgan Stanley holds an overweight rating for Meta and upped its price target from $250 to $300.

JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth said in a Thursday note that the earnings show the company’s commitment to cost discipline while driving accelerating near-term revenue growth, all while the firm also invests in artificial intelligence and the metaverse. JPMorgan reiterated its overweight rating and upped its price target for Meta from $270 to $305.

Meta shares are up 74% year-to-date.

— CNBC’s Jonathan Vanian and Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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