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Meta reports surprise strong earnings, touts AI progress

STORY: Mark Zuckerberg's Meta has seen a turnaround in its fortunes.

On Wednesday, the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, reported a return to sales growth for the first time in nearly a year.

Meta shares surged 12% in after-hours trading, adding more than $50 billion to its market value.

CEO Zuckerberg puts the success down to AI, which is helping the company boost traffic to its sites and earn more in ad sales.

Zuckerberg now plans to double down on that strategy, telling a conference call, quote, "...we now have the capacity to do leading work in this space at scale."

He also reiterated his commitment to investing in the metaverse-oriented Reality Labs unit, which lost $13.7 billion last year.

At the same time, Zuckerberg has made it his goal to turn 2023 into the "year of efficiency," with an aggressive cost-cutting drive which will include shedding 22,000 jobs.

The social media giant faced a bruising 2022 as a pandemic-era e-commerce boom sputtered, while rivals like TikTok captured young users, and Apple's privacy updates cut access to the user data around which it built its ads business.

Alphabet and Microsoft also posted strong results on Tuesday.