Meta shares jumped over 23% on Thursday, one of the stocks best day in nearly a decade, with a slew of analyst upgrades coming off the back of a fourth-quarter revenue beat and optimistic prognostications from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Meta shares sit at their highest point since September 2022, which was weeks before a disastrous third-quarter earnings report that prompted analysts across Wall Street to openly question Zuckerberg’s leadership. There was a markedly changed tone in analyst notes Wednesday night and Thursday morning, however, with the company beating topline estimates with $32.17 billion in revenue.
“Does META Really Deserve To Be Up 20% In The After-Market?!” posited Evercore ISI analyst Mark Mahaney. In a word, Mahaney wrote, “Yes.” He cited “materially reduced expense projections” and a larger-than-anticipated share buyback, upping his price target to $275 and reiterating an outperform rating.
Rosenblatt’s Barton Crockett took his rating for Meta to a buy, setting a $220 price target and saying he was convinced by a now “enticing” valuation. At Guggenheim, Michael Morris revised his price target to $210, maintaining a buy rating, citing in part lowered costs and a belief in management messaging on “momentum.”
Zuckerberg’s commentary was well received by analysts, just months after the Meta co-founder took responsibility for firing thousands of workers. “Our management theme for 2023 is the ‘Year of Efficiency’ and we’re focused on becoming a stronger and more nimble organization,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
Zuckerberg, 38, has led the company’s pivot toward virtual reality, sinking billions into Meta’s Reality Labs vertical. It’s a costly maneuver that has earned him criticism from both analysts and activist investors, including Altimeter Capital’s Brad Gerstner, who sees the gambit as a distraction from the company’s core ad businesses.