Meta Beats Estimates With Strong Q4 Revenue Growth; Tech Giant Declares Dividend

Following a day in which CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a drubbing at a Senate hearing, Meta today reported strong revenue growth that beat Wall Street expectations.

The company also declared a cash dividend of $0.50 per share, its first ever.

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Revenue for the three months ended December 31 climbed 25% to $40.1 billion, driven by growth in ad impressions across its platforms.

Meta shares jumped in extended trading after it reported income of $14.02 billion. Earnings per share was $5.33.

“We had a good quarter as our community and business continue to grow,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “We’ve made a lot of progress on our vision for advancing AI and the metaverse.”

Meta also said that it expects first quarter 2024 total revenue to be in the range of $34.5 billion-$37 billion.

In an earnings call, Zuckerberg called the past 12 months as our “year of efficiency,” following the slashing of tens of thousands of jobs. The company has 67,300 employees, down 22% from a year ago, though hiring recently has resumed.

“Our communities are growing and our business is back on track,” he said.

On Wednesday, Zuckerberg appeared with other tech CEOs for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on online child sexual exploitation. Lawmaker after lawmaker from both parties made scathing remarks about what they saw as Meta’s failure to police content on its platforms, with parents of children who have been victimized online appearing in the audience at the Capitol.

At one point, under pressure from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Zuckerberg turned and addressed the parents, telling them, “I’m sorry for everything you have all been through.” He talked of industry efforts “to make sure no one has to go through the things your families have had to suffer.”

Meta said that it continues to monitor “increasing legal and regulatory headwinds in the EU and the U.S.,” including efforts at the Federal Trade Commission to modify its consent order and “impose additional restrictions on our ability to operate.”

“We are contesting this matter, but if we are unsuccessful, it would have an adverse impact on our business,” the company’s CFO Susan Li said in the earnings call.

Lawmakers talked of a handful of new bills that would increase the liability of tech platforms for third party content, but so far legislation has stalled before making it to the floor of the House or the Senate.

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