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META POPS 60 DOLLARS HUGE OPTIONS GAINS

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Meta Platforms issued its first-ever dividend days ahead of flagship social network Facebook’s 20th anniversary while reporting revenue that beat expectations as a result of robust ad and device sales in the holiday shopping period.
The company, one of the tech sector’s original unicorns, said the dividend would be $0.50 per share. It also announced it had authorized an additional $50 billion in share repurchases, saying it would continue buying shares.
The announcement sent shares soaring 9% in trade after the bell, extending a long recovery that saw it notch record highs in recent weeks for the first time in more than two years.
"We’ve made a lot of progress on our vision for advancing AI and the metaverse," Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a prepared statement.
Revenue rose 25% to $40.1 billion for the quarter ended Dec. 31. Analysts were expecting revenue of $39.2 billion, according to LSEG data.
The results followed a showing on Tuesday from fellow digital ads heavyweight Alphabet that disappointed Wall Street after its holiday season advertising sales came in below expectations.
Shares of Meta, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, have been steadily climbing back from a meltdown in 2022 that wiped out more than three-quarters of the company’s one-time value when it was buoyed by investor excitement about artificial intelligence.
Its recovery has also been aided by a rebound in user growth and digital ad sales, as well as an austerity drive that saw it shed more than 21,000 employees since late 2022.

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