Facebook parent company Meta has reported losses for the first time since going public in 2012. As the US group announced on Wednesday, sales last year were 116.61 billion dollars (106.12 billion euros). That represented a one percent decline from 2021. Still, the stock jumped 18 percent in electronic trading after market close on Wednesday as the market had expected a deeper slump for the California-based company.

In the fourth quarter of 2022, Meta reported revenue of $32.17 billion (down four percent year-on-year) and halved its net income to $4.65 billion — analysts had expected $6 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg’s group is struggling with competition from the online service Tiktok and the economic crisis. However, according to the group, the number of Facebook users rose to over two billion for the first time. In addition to the online network Facebook, Meta also includes WhatsApp and Instagram.

Zuckerberg emphasized that 2023 should be a “year of efficiency” for the group. The focus is on becoming “stronger and more agile”. Meta announced last fall that around 11,000 jobs would be cut. The group now estimated restructuring costs of $4.2 billion for the quarter.

The controversial investments in the development of digital worlds under the keyword “Metaverse” remain high. The Reality Labs division, which bundles the virtual reality business, posted an operating loss of around $4.3 billion in the past quarter. For all of 2022, their operating loss added up to $13.7 billion on sales of just $2.16 billion.

Zuckerberg had declared the Metaverse to be the future of the company and symbolically changed the company name from Facebook to Meta. Especially after weak numbers for the third quarter, there were grumblings in investor circles about the high losses of Reality Labs. However, Zuckerberg reiterated that the investments are important for the long-term future.