As volatility rocks the stock market, it may be easy to forget that we're just about to roll into the heat of earnings season. Some companies will start releasing their quarterly reports over the next few weeks, with the end of the month featuring a number of tech giants reporting earnings.
One report worth watching this earnings season is Facebook parent Meta Platforms (META 4.45%), which will release its first-quarter results on April 27. With the stock down 34% year to date, investors will look to see if the company's latest performance can reinvigorate interest in the stock.
Ahead of Meta's upcoming earnings report, here's an overview of some of the hot topics worth checking on.
The impact of iOS on revenue
Meta's decelerating top-line growth in the company's most recent quarter and management's guidance for a further slowdown in Q1 has been the main reason for the stock's sharp decline as of late. After reporting impressive year-over-year revenue growth of 35% in the third quarter of 2021, fourth-quarter revenue growth slowed to a rate of just 20%. Even more concerning, management guided for revenue in the first quarter of 2021 to increase just 3% to 11%, compared to the year-ago quarter.
What was the main reason for this sudden slowdown in growth? Recent changes to ad tracking and measurement on Apple's iOS mobile-operating system. Privacy-focused changes on iOS have made it more difficult for Meta to implement targeting and measurement on the platform.
Fortunately, Meta management seemed optimistic about eventually working through these issues. But Meta said it could take several years to do so.
Investors, however, should note that Meta is notoriously conservative about its guidance. In other words, revenue growth usually comes in ahead of management's outlook. To this end, the social network giant will likely grow its revenue by at least 11% year over year in Q1. But there are no guarantees.
Whatever growth rate the company reports, it will likely give investors a window into how well the company is managing the challenges presented by iOS.
Equally as important as Facebook's first-quarter revenue will be the tech-company's outlook for Q2.
Investors shouldn't get too excited about the potential for stronger revenue guidance for Q2. Management warned in Meta's most recent earnings call that it's lapping tough year-ago comparisons in the first half of the year. This is especially true in Q2 2022. Revenue grew 56% in its year-ago comp as marketers started ramping up their ad spend again after limiting it during lockdowns.
It's tough to forecast what Meta will guide for in Q2, but investors should plan for the worst until they have more information. An extremely tough comp, combined with potentially prolonged issues with iOS, could mean Q2 growth isn't any better than Q1.
Overall, there's a lot of uncertainty associated with Meta right now. That's why the company's first-quarter report will be particularly interesting, providing timely insight for investors.
Meta reports its first-quarter results after market close on Wednesday, April 27.