Meta Platforms Q1 Earnings Preview: Will It Follow Tesla’s Lead or Suffer Netflix’s Fate?

Meta Platforms Inc

With the Q1 earnings season in full swing, all eyes are on Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META) as it gears up to unveil its earnings post-market today. This anticipation comes hot on the heels of Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) impressive Q1 performance, which saw its stock soar over 12% in pre-market trading. However, it’s a different story for Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), which experienced a significant drop following its earnings release last week. The question now is: Will Meta ride the wave to new highs, or will it face a similar downturn like Netflix? Let’s delve into the possibilities.

In terms of 2024 price action, Tesla and Meta stand at opposite ends of the spectrum. Meta boasts a year-to-date gain of over 40%, placing it among the top performers in the S&P 500 Index. Meanwhile, Tesla lags behind with a loss nearing 42% for the year. While Tesla’s YTD performance may see improvement by day’s end, it remains firmly in the red.

This divergence in performance reflects the market’s contrasting expectations for Meta, akin to what occurred with Netflix.

Previewing Meta’s Q1 Earnings

Analysts project Meta to announce revenues of $36.2 billion for Q1, representing a robust year-over-year increase of 26.5%. Meta’s own guidance, provided during its Q4 earnings call, anticipated revenues between $34.5 billion to $37 billion for the quarter, surpassing estimates. This optimistic guidance, combined with potential earnings outperformance, previously triggered a significant rally in Meta’s stock, propelling it to record highs.

Wall Street forecasts Meta’s Q1 earnings per share (EPS) to surge by 63% year-over-year to $4.32. Additionally, full-year EPS is expected to climb by 35.7%. However, analysts anticipate a slowdown in EPS growth for 2025, projecting a modest increase of just over 15%.

Challenges Ahead for Meta

After weathering a challenging 2022, which saw its first-ever year-over-year revenue decline post-IPO, Meta rebounded in 2023. The company’s focus on cost-cutting initiatives during the “year of efficiency” fueled a remarkable 73% rise in EPS, leading to substantial market gains. Meta’s stellar performance prompted a surge in its stock price, nearly tripling in value in 2023 and positioning it as one of the top performers among the Magnificent 7 stocks.

However, as Meta faces tougher comparables in the coming quarters, coupled with anticipated rises in expenses, challenges lie ahead. Increased payroll and infrastructure-related costs, along with higher losses in its Reality Labs segment, pose potential obstacles. Furthermore, sustaining the impressive revenue growth witnessed in 2023, fueled by heightened ad spending and successful Reels monetization, presents a formidable task for Meta in 2024.

Key Considerations for Meta’s Q1 Earnings

As Meta prepares to unveil its Q1 earnings, several factors warrant attention:

Q2 Guidance and Market Commentary: Analysts await Meta’s Q2 revenue guidance and insights into the digital advertising landscape, particularly regarding China-based advertisers targeting Western consumers.

AI Initiatives: Meta’s advancements in AI and their impact on ad efficiency may be discussed during the earnings call.

Innovation and Growth: With the “year of efficiency” in the rearview mirror, Meta’s ability to introduce new transformative ideas will be crucial as growth projections for 2025 moderate.

Meta Stock Forecast: Outlook and Analyst Sentiment

Despite Meta’s impressive rally, some analysts remain cautious ahead of the Q1 report. KeyBanc analyst Justin Patterson lowered his target price, citing concerns over revenue guidance. Evercore ISI analyst Mark Mahaney emphasizes the need for Meta to justify its YTD performance with robust earnings.

While Wall Street maintains a bullish outlook on Meta stock, expectations remain high. A clear beat-and-raise scenario may be necessary for Meta to sustain its current valuation. The looming question is whether Meta will meet expectations and maintain its upward trajectory or face market scrutiny akin to Netflix.

In conclusion, Meta’s Q1 earnings release will be closely scrutinized, with market reactions hinging on its ability to deliver strong numbers amidst heightened expectations. As the bar is set high, Meta must demonstrate resilience and innovation to maintain investor confidence.

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About the author: Stephanie Bedard-Chateauneuf has over six years of experience writing financial content for various websites. Over the years, Stephanie has covered various industries, with a primary focus on tech stocks, consumer stocks, health stocks, and personal finance. This stock lover likes to invest for the long-term. Stephanie has an MBA in finance.