Meta on Thursday reported a 25 percent increase in quarterly revenue while profit more than tripled, a rise fueled by its ads business after a shaky 18 months of layoffs and a rocky digital advertising market.
The Silicon Valley company, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, also said it would issue its first dividend, of 50 cents a share. Dividends are typically associated with mature and slower-growth companies. Meta made the announcement as it spends heavily on capital investments, such as data centers and other infrastructure. The company also authorized an additional $50 billion in share buybacks.
“We had a good quarter as our community and business continue to grow,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s founder and chief executive. “We’ve made a lot of progress on our vision for advancing A.I. and the metaverse.”
For the three months ended Dec. 31, Meta’s revenue was $40.1 billion, up from $32.2 billion a year ago and exceeding Wall Street estimates of $39 billion, according to data compiled by FactSet. Profit was $14 billion, up from $4.65 billion a year earlier.
The company benefited from a continued rebound in digital ads, though marketers remain cautious about where they allocate their advertising budgets. On Tuesday, Google reported search revenue and a profit margin for its latest quarter that fell short of Wall Street expectations because of modest advertising growth.
Meta has undergone a tumultuous few years as the global economy shifted and wobbled the online ad markets. The company has also faced scrutiny for privacy issues and the spread of misinformation and toxic content on its platforms.
Mr. Zuckerberg has shifted the company into the immersive digital world of the metaverse. Last year, he also embarked on what he called a “year of efficiency” to cut costs, including laying off tens of thousands of employees. The company’s work force has shrunk by 22 percent since December 2022 and now stands at 67,317 employees.
Meta remains under pressure to rein in harmful content across its platforms, which are regularly used by more than four billion people. On Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg — along with other tech chief executives — was grilled in a congressional hearing over the proliferation of online child sexual abuse material. Mr. Zuckerberg told attendees of the hearing that he was sorry for what families of children who suffered abuse online had experienced.
Despite that, more people are regularly coming back to Meta’s services. The company hosts more than 3.98 billion users across its apps each month, up 6 percent from a year ago.
It also continues to invest heavily in artificial intelligence and redesigning its data centers to keep up with other tech giants in the highly competitive field. Meta said part of its increased operating expenses came from attracting top technical talent in A.I.
But the company said layoffs and some other cost-cutting measures, such as restructuring its data centers, were “completed.” It took a restructuring charge of $1.1 billion for the quarter.
Meta said it expected to continue growing in the current quarter, with revenue in the range of $35 billion to $37 billion.
The company also bumped up its forecasts on capital expenditures to $30 billion to $37 billion over the course of 2024. Much of that will include building out and maintaining its infrastructure, as well as the ballooning cost of A.I. research and development.