Things are looking up for Meta Platforms (META 1.28%). The company had a rough go of it last year on the stock market, but it has been on fire since 2023 started.

Meta Platforms' latest quarterly update added even more fuel to that fire, with its shares soaring on the heels of its first-quarter earnings. Meta Platforms now finds itself closing in on its 52-week high. Should investors still consider buying the stock at these levels? 

Meta Platforms' latest results 

Meta Platforms' earnings report was not exactly stellar, and certainly not on par with the kinds of results investors were once used to. But in light of what the company endured over the past year, Meta's latest update was a step in the right direction. The company's revenue increased by 3% year over year to $28.6 billion.

Meta Platforms' revenue growth rates had been negative for the past few quarters, so it is nice to see the company's sales inching higher.

META Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) Chart

META Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) data by YCharts

Also, despite already having the largest ecosystem among social media giants, Meta Platforms continues to grow in this area. The company's monthly active users across its family of websites and apps increased by 5% year over year to 3.81 billion. That's nearly half of the world's population that visits one of Meta's social media networks at least once per month. The company also continues to implement initiatives to cut costs, including layoffs and removing some facilities.

The company now expects its total expenses for the year to come between $86 billion and $90 billion, down from its previous estimates of $89 billion to $95 billion. Not everything was great in Meta's earnings report. The company's net income fell by 24% year over year to $5.7 billion, and free cash flow declined to $6.9 billion, down 19% compared to the prior-year quarter.

Still, overall, it was a much better quarter than what Meta Platforms delivered for most of last year, which explains why its shares soared

What's your investing timeline? 

There are still plenty of opportunities ahead for Meta Platforms. One of the fastest-growing ones is the company's Reels, a collection of short-form videos across Facebook and Instagram.

Meta Platforms reported that it has been ramping up the use of AI to drive relevant recommendations of Reels for users -- even from accounts they don't follow -- on both platforms. The result: Reels reshares doubled in the past six months for the company, among other positive points.

Meta Platforms is also using AI to improve the efficiency of ads, something that is yielding positive results. Meta's Reels could become an important growth driver for the company once businesses increase advertising across the company's platforms. Another key opportunity for Meta is paid messaging on WhatsApp, which includes businesses communicating directly with customers, being able to answer questions, and making sales directly on the app.

While these two features are important, there is an even more critical point for investors to keep in mind: Meta Platforms already has billions of users across its websites and apps. Building an ecosystem that large is challenging, as evidenced by the fact that there is probably no social media company in the world with such a network. That provides massive opportunities to Meta Platforms, as long as it can find ways to monetize its users. 

Paid messaging and Reels are just two of the most recent attempts, but there will be more. The company has also been working on the metaverse -- although that opportunity is still far from yielding dividends. But the point stands: Meta Platforms will continue various means to squeeze more money out of its existing user base. Not all the company's attempts will be profitable, and the ones that become profitable might not be so immediately.

So Meta Platforms' stock may remain somewhat volatile and susceptible to economic troubles in the short run. But for investors focused on the long game, Meta Platforms can still deliver outsized returns in the next five years and beyond. That's why the company's shares are a buy.