Sales rose by $10 billion over the first nine months of the year - boosted, among other things, by a recovery in the advertising market, which has been under prolonged stress for the past eighteen months - but operating expenses were up by only $2.5 billion: the operating margin is therefore significantly higher than at the same time last year.

Meta has cut its fat but not its R&D. The Menlo Park-based group still intends to dominate the new technologies of artificial intelligence and virtual reality. This year, its R&D budget - $28 billion for the first nine months of the year - puts it almost on a par with Alphabet and, for the record, far ahead of Apple.

It's an audacious gamble, since the challenge for the future is to make the colossal sums invested in innovation pay off. Fans of Mark Zuckerberg will be pleased to note that his style remains unchanged: aggressive since the early days of Facebook, his strategy has always delivered beyond market expectations; the founder of Meta clearly has no intention of deviating from this ambition.

The group with three billion users - a number that is growing slowly but steadily - is reducing its share buy-backs by a third over the course of 2023. We expected no less, since after last year's slump, its stock market valuation is now back above its five-year average.

How long ago it seems that Meta traded at less than ten times earnings! Yet that was exactly a year ago, when the market thought Facebook obsolete and said R&D investments misguided. The speed of change in perceptions is astonishing, offering investors an instructive lesson in behavioral science...