Meta’s first earnings of 2022 may have largely fallen short of expectations, but that hasn’t really dampened the enthusiasm of its investors.
Facebook’s parent company on Wednesday missed Wall Street revenue forecasts during the first three months of 2022, and posted its slowest revenue growth in years. It also narrowly missed analysts’ predictions for daily and monthly active Facebook users. And its profits, while ahead of expectations, were down 21% from the same period a year ago.
Still, investors managed to find something to celebrate. Meta shares jumped more than 18% in after-hours trading following Wednesday’s earnings report.
Investors were likely pleased with Meta’s user numbers — while they were slightly lower than expected, they did still grow. Monthly active Facebook users were up 3% and daily active Facebook users grew 4% year-over-year; monthly and daily active users on Meta’s family of apps also each grew 6%. That marks a reversal from the rare stagnation in user numbers during the previous quarter.
Meta also lowered its projections for total expenses for the year, adjusting the upper limit of its expected spending from $95 billion to $92 billion. The adjustment was probably welcomed by investors wary of how much the company is shelling out on its plans for an augmented- and virtual-reality enabled future.
The company reported total quarterly revenue up 7% year-over-year to $27.9 billion, and net income of nearly $7.5 billion, or $2.72 per share.
“We made progress this quarter across a number of key company priorities and we remain confident in the long-term opportunities and growth that our product roadmap will unlock,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.
Still, there remain some warning signs for the company, which is battling rivals like TikTok, struggling to monetize popular video content and facing disruption of its core advertising business because of changes to Apple’s privacy practices. The company reported that its average price per ad decreased by 8% from the same period in the prior year; by contrast, average price per ad was up 6% in the previous quarter.
Meta also noted that its business was affected by Russia’s war in Ukraine — the company’s Facebook and Instagram platforms were blocked in Russia last month — and expects those challenges to continue in the current quarter.
In the last quarter of 2021, Meta began breaking out its Reality Labs segment, which includes its AR and VR efforts, from its larger family of apps. In the first quarter of 2022, the Reality Labs unit posted a loss of nearly $3 billion during the quarter. And Zuckerberg warned analysts on Wednesday’s earnings call to expect continued challenges.
“Based on the strong revenue growth we saw in 2021, we kicked off a number of multi-year products to accelerate some of our longer-term investments,” he said. “But with our current business growth levels, we are now planning to slow the pace of some of our investments.”
Zuckerberg said Meta hopes in the coming years to generate sufficient operating income growth from its family of apps to fund its investments in Reality Labs while still growing the company’s overall profitability.
“Of course, our priority remains building for the long-term, so while we’re currently building our plans to achieve this, it is possible that prolonged macroeconomic or business uncertainty could force us to trade off against shorter-term financial goals,” Zuckerberg said. “But we remain confident in our long-term opportunities.”