Investors remained on uncertain footing on Wednesday, with major stock market benchmarks finishing the day sharply mixed. The Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) held up quite well, powered upward by strong earnings on Tuesday night from key tech giants. However, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) and S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) lost more ground, adding to declines from Tuesday.
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The height of earnings season continued after the end of regular trading on Wednesday afternoon, and some well-known companies released their latest financial results. Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: META) saw its stock soar after offering reassuring signs that the social media pioneer will continue to be diligent in controlling its costs. However, Align Technology (NASDAQ: ALGN) dropped sharply, reflecting concerns about its long-term thesis and competitive advantages.
Meta powers ahead
Shares of Meta Platforms were 12% higher in trading after hours on Wednesday afternoon. The company's first-quarter financial results added more evidence that the parent company of Facebook and Instagram is back on solid ground after going through challenging times throughout much of 2022.
To be clear, Meta's first-quarter numbers weren't all that attractive on their face. Revenue inched higher by 3% year over year to $28.65 billion. Net income sagged 24% to $5.71 billion, bringing earnings down to $2.20 per share. Gains in most key metrics were somewhat tepid, with daily active users of Facebook rising 4% to 2.04 billion and monthly active users climbing 2% year over year to come in just short of the 3 billion person mark.
Yet Meta investors were pleased to see that the company is continuing to move forward with its restructuring efforts. Despite seeing substantial charges related to its latest round of layoffs in March, Meta nevertheless gave guidance that its total expenses for the full 2023 year will be between $86 billion and $90 billion. As high as that is, it was enough to show investors that Meta is serious about reining in what many had feared would become uncontrolled spending.
Meta's share price had already risen sharply earlier in the year, so the latest gains only add to what's been an incredible run for the stock. If the company can grow revenue and keep its focus on boosting profits, there could be more upside for the social media company.
Align takes it on the chin
On the other side of the coin, shares of Align Technology fell almost 10% in after-hours trading. The maker of Invisalign orthodontic devices released first-quarter results that disappointed investors.
Align's revenue in the first quarter of 2023 came in at $943 million, down 3% year over year. As with Meta, Align's adjusted net income saw larger declines of 21% to $141 million. Adjusted earnings of $1.83 per share were down from the $2.25 per share that Align earned in the year-ago period.
Align tried to paint a positive picture from the quarter and also affirmed the authorization of a new $1 billion stock-buyback program. Even after spending roughly $290 million on repurchases of shares during the first quarter, Align seems convinced that its shares are a bargain.
Yet investors weren't comfortable with the slowdown in growth that Align is seeing, with the Invisalign maker projecting $980 million to $1 billion in revenue for the second quarter. If tough economic times make it hard for patients to pursue orthodontic care, things could get worse for Align before they get better.
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Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Align Technology and Meta Platforms. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.