Meta is now a “top pick” among internet stocks as the company leans into the AI hype, analysts say.Shares of Meta jumped 14% on Thursday, with the stock now up 92% from the beginning of the year. The company reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings, reversing the past three quarters of revenue decline.LoadingSomething is loading.Thanks for signing up!Access your favorite topics in a personalized feed while you’re on the go. download the appAfter tanking last year, Meta is now a “top pick” among internet stocks, and shares could soar as much as 20% this year as the social media giant leans into the AI hype, analysts say.Shares of Meta rose 14% on Thursday to $239 as the company reported better-than-expected earnings in the first quarter. Revenue jumped 3% year-per-year to $28.7 billion over the past reporting period, representing the first revenue growth it’s seen over the last year. The improved earnings picture led UBS analysts to call the company a “top pick” among internet stocks, estimating shares could soar 20% to $280 over the next year. That comes just a few months after Meta stock tanked in late 2022, losing trillions on its floundering plans to expand into the metaverse.UBS analysts aren’t the only ones who are bullish, though. “We’re bullish on the core business. Meta was our top pick coming into the year,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Brad Erickson said in an interview with CNBC on Thursday, defining the company’s core business as products other than the metaverse. “When your core business is firing on all cylinders and they are showing that is happening, you can work on science projects that may take five or ten plus years to show a return,” he added.The improved outlook is largely due to Meta incorporating more AI into its services, analysts say, which has the potential to boost future earnings. AI chat services could trim customer support costs and make Facebook messaging more affordable for smaller businesses, according to Deepwater Asset Management’s Gene Munster, who estimated that AI-supported chat functions could make up as much as 15% of Meta’s revenue by the year 2025.Artificial intelligence technology has also boosted engagement on Meta’s key platforms, like Instagram Reels. AI recommendations have increased time spent on Instagram by 24%, according to JMP analysts, who estimated the stock has around 16% upside to $270 a share.Munster added that higher engagement stemming from AI would be key to the company’s growth – which appears to be on the uptrend. Daily active users across Meta’s platforms increased to 4.1% in the last quarter, up from 3.7% at the end of 2022, Munster notes. “Meta’s AI opportunity is built on top of the success the company has had in growing its user base. Going forward the flywheel will quicken between new AI features that will increase engagement and create new opportunities for AI to improve engagement. The good news for Meta’s AI future, it is already off to a good start,” Munster added. That comes after a dismal year for Meta, with tech stocks hammered in 2022 due to rising inflation and higher costs of borrowing. The social media giant was one of the worst-performing stocks of 2022, though it was the second-top performer in the S&P 500 over first quarter of 2023. The stock is now up 92% since the start of the year.