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Meta's Rising, but Another Nasdaq Stock Is Jumping Even Higher

Motley Fool - Thu Jul 27, 2023

Investors have been extremely bullish lately, and even an interest rate increase from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday wasn't enough to dampen the mood among investors. Indeed, in a delayed reaction, stock markets climbed sharply early Thursday, with the Nasdaq Composite(NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) leading the way with gains of nearly 1.5% shortly after the market opened.

A big driver for positive performance was Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: META), which was able to deliver plenty of growth and sees a lot of encouraging things in its pipeline for future products and releases. Yet another stock listed on the Nasdaq, Align Technology (NASDAQ: ALGN), posted even sharper gains. Here's everything you need to know about what these two companies told their shareholders and why it's making Wall Street more enthusiastic than ever.

Meta keeps making money

Shares of Meta Platforms opened 8% higher Thursday morning. The social media giant's second-quarter financial report showed a big recovery in the advertising business at a time when it matters the most for Meta and its shareholders.

Meta's numbers were impressive. Revenue of $32 billion was up 11% year over year, with advertising-related sales rising at a 12% pace. Ad impressions jumped 34% from year-ago levels, signaling that customers are spending money on marketing once again after a slump during the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Meta kept making progress on its cost-cutting and efficiency measures, and that led to a 16% rise in net income. Earnings of $2.98 per share were up 21% year over year, lifted in part by extensive share repurchases that reduced outstanding share counts.

Meta's projections built up some excitement as well. Third-quarter revenue guidance of $32 billion to $34.5 billion shows that the company is sustaining its forward momentum, and the company said it would spend $3 billion less on capital expenditures this year than previously expected. CEO Mark Zuckerberg did warn that spending would likely rise in 2024, though, given the need to pursue a host of projects in potentially lucrative areas.

Meta has developed an extensive pipeline of growth drivers, including Reels and Threads within its core social media platforms, the Quest 3 virtual reality headset, and the Llama 2 large language AI model. Investors can expect more AI projects to come, and that could be another driver of growth for Meta in the years ahead.

Align gets things straightened out

Jumping even more, Align Technology's stock soared 18% at the open. The maker of Invisalign orthodontic devices reported second-quarter financial results that showed renewed growth after a sluggish period for the company.

Align's revenue came in just over the $1 billion mark, rising 3% year over year and 6% from where it was three months ago. Strength in Invisalign sales managed to offset weakness in Align's imaging system and CAD/CAM services division, as aligner unit volumes inched upward from where they were 12 months ago, topping the 600,000 mark. Adjusted net income was also slightly higher, rising 1% to $170.4 million and producing adjusted earnings of $2.22 per share.

Shareholders were also pleased to see Align project continued progress ahead. Third-quarter revenue should be between $990 million and $1.01 billion, which would represent a 12% year-over-year rise. That should set up Align to see sales of $3.97 billion to $3.99 billion for the full year, and continued margin improvement could help drive profit gains as well.

With the move, Align stock has close to doubled since the beginning of 2023. That still leaves it with considerable declines since its highs in 2021, but shareholders seem more confident than ever in Align's ability to keep bouncing back.

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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.

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