Facebook’s main social network added more users than projected in the first quarter, potentially staving off concerns that the company is losing momentum as a new generation flocks to younger sites like TikTok.
Shares surged more than 16% in late trading after Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc. reported 1.96 billion daily users for its flagship platform, a return to growth after the first-ever decline in the December quarter. Analysts had estimated 1.94 billion.
Revenue for the period jumped 6.6% to $27.9 billion, and would have been higher if not for the war in Ukraine, the company said. The stock had dropped almost 50% this year as investors became increasingly worried that Meta’s main business and profit engine—advertising in its social media feeds—was losing steam.
Those concerns appear to have been put to rest—at least for now—given Facebook added 31 million new daily active users in the recent quarter. Still, many of Meta’s challenges remain. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has acknowledged that video-sharing app TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance Ltd., is providing serious competition for young users’ attention.
Meanwhile, changes to data-collection rules on Apple Inc.’s iPhones have hindered Meta’s ability to serve users targeted ads. Last quarter, Meta executives said the privacy changes would reduce the company’s 2022 sales by $10 billion. Advertisers have also been spending less due to issues with supply chains, inflation and the ongoing war in Ukraine, Meta executives said.
A prolonged slowdown would make it tougher for the company to justify Zuckerberg’s expensive, virtual-reality-fueled vision of the metaverse, a business that won’t bring in profit for years—if ever. Meta said that in light of the revenue outlook, it is paring its spending plans for the year, to $87 billion to $92 billion from a previous target of as much as $95 billion.