Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Meta Platforms, in July 2021.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Meta beat on earnings and revenue in its fourth-quarter report on Thursday and announced its first-ever dividend payment. The stock jumped 15% in extended trading.

Here are the key numbers:

  • Earnings: $5.33 per share vs. $4.96 per share expected by LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv.
  • Revenue: $40.1 billion vs. $39.18 billion expected by LSEG
  • Daily active users (DAUs): 2.11 billion vs. 2.08 billion expected, according to StreetAccount
  • Monthly active users (MAUs): 3.07 billion vs. 3.06 billion expected, according to StreetAccount
  • Average revenue per user (ARPU): $13.12 vs. $12.81 expected, according to StreetAccount

The after-hours market jump continues a rally from 2023, when the stock almost tripled. It hit a record last week and was up 12% this year prior to the earnings report.

Revenue jumped 25% in the quarter from $32.2 billion a year earlier, the fastest rate of growth for any period since mid-2021, as the online ad market continued to rebound. Meanwhile, the company’s cost and expenses decreased 8% year-over-year to $23.73 billion, and its operating margin more than doubled to 41%, a clear sign that cost-cutting measures are bolstering profitability.

Net income more than tripled to $14 billion, or $5.33 per share, from $4.65 billion, or $1.76 per share, a year earlier.

Meta said it will pay investors a dividend of 50 cents a share on March 26. That comes after cash and equivalents swelled to $65.4 billion at then end of the year. The company also announced a $50 billion share buyback.

Sales in Meta’s Reality Labs unit passed $1 billion in the quarter, though the unit recorded $4.65 billion in losses.

“We had a good quarter as our community and business continue to grow,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. “We’ve made a lot of progress on our vision for advancing AI and the metaverse.”

Meta said it expects first-quarter sales to be in the range of $34.5 billion to $37 billion. Analysts were expecting revenue of $33.8 billion. Expenses in 2024 will be in the range of of $94 billion to $99 billion.

Meta said that its headcount was 67,317 as of Dec. 31, representing a 22% year-over-year decrease following its layoffs.

Zuckerberg has attributed advances in artificial intelligence to improvements in the ad business, which is growing faster than rival Google. In Alphabet‘s earnings report on Tuesday, the company said Google ad revenue increased 11% from a year earlier, slower expansion than analysts were expecting.

Earlier this week, Zuckerberg, along with the top executives at TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), Snap and Discord, faced tough questioning from lawmakers on Wednesday. They accused the Facebook founder of ignoring the severity of child exploitation on the company’s family of apps.

Parents attending the hearing lambasted Meta and other companies for what they allege are insufficient safety and design measures that have caused mental health issues for their children and, in some cases, even resulted in their deaths.

“I’m sorry for everything you’ve all gone through. It’s terrible,” Zuckerberg told the parents in an emotional scene on Capitol Hill. “No one should have to go through the things that your families have suffered.” 

WATCH: Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologizes to parents at online child safety Senate hearing

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologizes to parents at online child safety Senate hearing

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