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Meta Reports triples its profits and issues its first dividend| GuyWhoKnowsThings

goal on Thursday reported a 25 percent increase in quarterly revenue, while profits more than tripled, a rise driven by its advertising business after a rocky 18 months of layoffs and a shaky digital advertising market.

The Silicon Valley company, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, also said it would issue its first dividend, 50 cents per share. Dividends are typically associated with mature, slower-growing companies. Meta made the announcement because it spends a lot on capital investments, such as data centers and other infrastructure. The company also authorized an additional $50 billion in share buybacks.

The results sent Meta shares up 14.5 percent to $449.51 in after-hours trading.

“Being a more efficient company helps us execute better and faster,” Mark Zuckerberg, Meta's founder and CEO, said on a call with investors Thursday.

“In the future, an important goal will be to create the most popular and advanced AI products and services,” he added. “If we are successful, everyone who uses our services will have a world-class AI assistant to help them get things done.”

For the three months ended Dec. 31, Meta's revenue was $40.1 billion, up from $32.2 billion a year ago and beating Wall Street estimates of $39 billion, according to data compiled by FactSet . Profit was $14 billion, compared to $4.65 billion the previous year.

The company benefited from a continued rebound in digital ads, although 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 did not meet Wall Street's expectations due to modest growth in advertising.

Meta has been through a tumultuous few years as the global economy changed and online advertising markets faltered. The company has also faced scrutiny over privacy issues and the spread of misinformation and toxic content on its platforms.

Zuckerberg has taken 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 workforce has been reduced by 22 percent since December 2022 and now stands at 67,317 employees.

In the latest quarter, Reality Labs, the division responsible for building virtual and augmented reality glasses and products, surpassed $1 billion in revenue for the first time. But it's not making any money, losing $4.6 billion during that period.

Meta remains under pressure to control harmful content on its platforms, which are regularly used by more than four billion people. On Wednesday, Zuckerberg, along with other tech CEOs, was questioned at a congressional hearing about the proliferation of child sexual abuse material online. Zuckerberg told the audience that He was sorry by what families of children who suffered online abuse had experienced.

Despite this, more and more people return regularly to Meta services. The company hosts more than 3.98 billion users on its apps each month, up 6 percent from a year ago.

It also continues to invest heavily in artificial intelligence and redesign its data centers to keep up with other tech giants in a highly competitive field. Meta said part of his increased operating expenses came from attracting top AI technical talent.

“We're playing to win,” Zuckerberg said of the company's AI efforts. “Expect us to continue investing aggressively in this area.”

“General intelligence will also be the subject of our product work,” he added, referring to a more advanced type of AI that can solve cognitive tasks that humans can perform.

The company said the layoffs and some other cost-cutting measures, such as restructuring its data centers, were “complete.” A restructuring charge of $1.1 billion was required for the quarter.

Meta said it expected to continue growing in the first three months of the year, with revenue in the range of $35 billion to $37 billion.

The company also raised its capital spending forecast to between $30 billion and $37 billion over the course of 2024. Much of that will include building and maintaining its infrastructure, as well as the rising cost of research and the development of AI.

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