Meta's Shares Plummet Despite Strong Earnings, Higher AI Expenses

By Patricia Miller


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Meta Platforms, Inc. (Nasdaq: META) reported impressive Q1 2024 results. Despite these gains, Meta's stock fell 15% in after-hours trading. Find out why.

Meta, new name for Facebook Inc - American digital company, owner of Facebook, Instagram, Oculus VR.

What You Need To Know

Meta Platforms, Inc. (Nasdaq: META) released its first quarter 2024 financial results, showing robust performance. Revenue for the quarter ended March 31, 2024, was $36.46 billion, a 27% increase compared to the same period last year. Income from operations surged by 91% to $13.82 billion, with a corresponding increase in net income to $12.37 billion, marking a 117% rise year-over-year. Diluted earnings per share also showed significant growth, reaching $4.71, up by 114% from the previous year.

Nevertheless, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, saw its shares plunge over 15% in after-hours trading despite reporting better-than-expected earnings. The drop in stock price was attributed to Meta's announcement that it would be increasing its spending on artificial intelligence (AI) this year. The company has been investing heavily in AI to enhance its ad-buying products and introduce AI features on its social media platforms.

Operational highlights included a 7% year-over-year increase in daily active users, totaling 3.24 billion. Ad impressions grew by 20%, and the average price per ad rose by 6% compared to last year. Despite a 10% decrease in headcount, Meta remains focused on expanding its offerings, notably with the Meta AI Llama 3 launch.

Looking forward, Meta forecasts second quarter 2024 revenue to range between $36.5-39 billion. The company anticipates increased expenses for the year due to infrastructure and legal costs, with capital expenditures projected to rise in support of AI development.

Regulatory concerns remain a focus, with ongoing monitoring of legal and regulatory challenges that could impact future operations. Overall, Meta is optimistic about its progress and future prospects within its Family of Apps and broader strategic initiatives.

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Street Analysis

In the near-term, total revenue for Q2 2024 is projected to be between $36.5 to $39 billion, with foreign currency affecting growth. Total expenses for the full year are estimated to be around $96 to $99 billion due to increased infrastructure and legal costs. Capital expenditures for the year are expected to be in the range of $35 to $40 billion to support AI development.

Long-term plans involve significant investments in AI and Reality Labs, focused on advanced models and product usage. Capital expenditures will continue to rise to support AI research. Infrastructure investments will grow to meet company opportunities. Reality Labs operating losses will increase due to product development.

Key themes include increased AI investment, scaling AI services, monetization potential, growth in business messaging, improvement of recommendation systems, Reels expansion, and mixed reality ecosystem growth.

  • Monetization will prioritize scaled areas.

  • AI content recommendations will continue driving engagement.

  • Meta AI aims to become the leading AI assistant.

  • Business messaging is a near-term monetization opportunity.

  • AI development will focus on complex tasks and user interactions.

Why This Is Important for Retail Investors

  1. Impact on Meta's stock price: The significant drop in Meta's shares highlights the potential volatility in the stock market and serves as a reminder to retail investors of the importance of closely monitoring the financial performance and future plans of companies in their investment portfolio.

  2. Understanding technology companies: Meta's heavy investment in AI and the subsequent impact on its financials demonstrate the evolving nature and competitiveness of the technology sector. Retail investors can gain insights into the trends and strategies that drive the performance of tech companies, helping them make informed decisions when considering investments in this industry.

  3. Revenue projection insights: Understanding the projected revenue range for a specific quarter (Q2 2024) helps retail investors gauge the company's financial performance and make informed investment decisions. It provides a glimpse into the company's potential earnings and growth prospects.

  4. Significance of AI in advertising: Meta's focus on AI in its advertising products underscores the growing importance of this technology in the digital advertising landscape. Retail investors can gain exposure to the potential growth and opportunities that AI presents within the advertising industry and consider investments in companies capitalizing on this trend.

  5. Capital expenditure impact: The anticipated capital expenditures range for 2024 provides valuable information for retail investors. Increased investments in infrastructure to support AI development signify the company's commitment to technological advancements, which can have significant implications on long-term growth prospects.

  6. Insights into long-term investments: Retail investors can gain valuable insights into the company's long-term strategy by understanding its investments in AI and Reality Labs. This information highlights the company's focus on innovation and its efforts to stay competitive in the evolving market, giving retail investors a glimpse of future growth potential.

  7. Monetization opportunities and product expansion: The highlighted themes, such as monetizing AI, growth in business messaging, and expanding the mixed reality ecosystem, offer retail investors insights into potential revenue sources and future product developments. Understanding these opportunities and the company's focus areas can help retail investors assess the company's revenue diversification and market positioning.

  8. Regulatory risks: With Meta's past regulatory challenges and the ongoing scrutiny of digital platforms, retail investors need to be aware of the potential risks associated with investing in companies operating in a highly regulated environment. Understanding the potential regulatory hurdles can help investors assess the long-term viability and sustainability of their investments.

  9. Competitor landscape: The mention of Meta's rival, TikTok, and its uncertain future in the US highlights the competitive dynamics within the technology sector. Retail investors need to stay abreast of developments and disruptions within the industry, as it can impact the performance and competitive positioning of companies they invest in.

How Can You Use This Information?

Here are some of the investing ideas that can be explored using this information:

Growth Investing

Understanding the company's long-term investments in AI and Reality Labs can help identify opportunities for exponential growth in innovative sectors, aligning with a growth investing strategy.

Retail investors can explore the potential growth opportunities in companies involved in the AI space, such as Meta, as they invest heavily in this technology to boost earnings growth.

Growth investing focuses on stocks of companies expected to grow at an above-average rate compared to other stocks in the market; learn more in our article titled 'What is Growth Investing?'.

Dividend Investing

Retail investors can analyze the company's revenue projections and financial health to assess the potential for consistent dividend payouts and incorporate it into their dividend investing strategy.

Dividend investing targets companies that regularly distribute a portion of their earnings to shareholders as dividends.

Defensive investing

Given the uncertainty and volatility surrounding Meta's stock price, retail investors may consider adopting a defensive investing approach by focusing on companies with more stable financials and less exposure to regulatory risks.

Defensive Investing focuses on securing a portfolio by choosing companies that are less sensitive to economic downturns.

Thematic Investing

Insights into areas like AI, Reality Labs, and advancements in recommendation systems can guide retail investors looking to align their investments with emerging themes and technological trends.

Thematic Investing selects assets based on projected trends or themes believed to offer growth opportunities.

Innovation-Focused Investing

Knowledge about the company's capital expenditure plans for infrastructure and AI development can help retail investors identify and invest in companies at the forefront of innovation.

Innovation-focused investing seeks out companies that are leaders in technological advancement, offering potential for significant growth as they develop new products and services.

Read What Others Are Saying

Reuters: Meta shares sink on higher AI spending, light revenue forecast

FT: Meta proves AI hype has its limits

The Guardian: Meta says revenue will be weak as it spends even more on AI

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This article does not provide any financial advice and is not a recommendation to deal in any securities or product. Investments may fall in value and an investor may lose some or all of their investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

Patricia Miller does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the above article.

Patricia Miller has not been paid to produce this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

Digitonic Ltd, the owner of, does not hold a position or positions in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the above article.

Digitonic Ltd, the owner of, has not been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

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