Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Zuckerberg said he plans to keep headcount growth "relatively minimal" for 2024. Image Credit: Reuters

Meta Platforms Inc. just become Wall Street's top comeback kid.

It was only a couple of years back the Facebook owner suffered the single biggest market value destruction in stock-market history. But the company has come a long way since then, on Thursday it dazzled shareholders with yet another impressive quarterly earnings report as the social media giant focuses on cutting back costs and shoring up billions in profits.

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The stock rose 20 per cent Friday to close at an all-time high of $474.99 per share. The gain added $197 billion to its market capitalization, the biggest single-session market value addition, eclipsing the $190 billion gains made by Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. in 2022.

Reasons for jump
For all the hype over artificial intelligence and its potential to bolster profits, Meta and Amazon stood out as winners of the Big Tech earnings season for the simple reason that they have cut tens of thousands of jobs, and their core businesses did well over the holidays.

Shares of Amazon gained 7.9 per cent and Meta surged 20 per cent to an all-time high of $474.99.

- Reuters

"Solid execution, faster growth, and increased capital structure efficiency improve the outlook from here," Brian Nowak, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, wrote in a note Friday.

"Meta's AI pipeline for both users and advertisers is robust, with more tools set to launch and scale throughout '24," he added.

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Meta, which reduced headcount by 22 per cent in 2023, unveiled plans for a $50 billion stock buyback, and announced its first quarterly dividend on Thursday, a sign to investors that it has money to spare and a reason for them to stick around.

While the company is making big cost cuts, it continues to spend aggressively on artificial intelligence advancements, namely in generative AI but also on the background technologies to help feed its social media products and power its ad targeting.

Zuckerberg said he plans to keep headcount growth "relatively minimal" for 2024 and beyond despite the lofty ambitions.

"Until we reach a point where we are just really under water on our ability to execute, I kind of want to keep things lean because I think that's the right thing for us to do culturally."

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said Amazon reduced the cost to serve a customer's order by 45 cents per unit in 2023, its first decrease on that metric in five years, and he vowed to continue to look for ways to bring those costs even lower.