Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) has a few financial positives many other large tech companies do not. Among those is a second-quarter balance sheet with $4.1 billion in cash and short-term investments, $4.3 billion in working capital, adjusted free cash flow of $112 million and an adjusted EBITDA of $178 million. Much of the company’s expenses for the period were stock-based compensation of $133 million and amortization and depreciation of $103 million. Put another way, financially at least, Twitter is not entirely a dog. That makes it a takeover target again, now that its market cap has dropped to $12 billion, which is close to as low as it has been in two years.
When adjusted for its balance sheet, the cost to buy Twitter at its current share price is well below $10 billion. Its 328 million monthly active users are not worth nothing, although the market trades the stock as if they are worth very little. When Twitter was a takeover target, they suddenly became worth a great deal.
Twitter became a takeover target last October, and its shares jumped to $24. The same reasons potential buyers liked the company still exist.
Rumors were that Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE: CRM), Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) considered a purchase of Twitter. Its rich trove of data was one reason. It has a treasure chest full of information about tens of millions of people. And what Twitter has done poorly, another company might do well. To make more money from Twitter’s users would require a powerful ad network like Google’s or a large base of consumers like Disney’s. Twitter is worth more as part of some companies than on its own.
At the time of Salesforce’s interest, Business Insider reported, just after Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) bought LinkedIn:
Given what we know about how hard Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff tried to buy LinkedIn, we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he was doing the same in pursuit of Twitter. The Wall Street Journal just reported that Salesforce is currently the top bidder for Twitter.
Benioff wanted LinkedIn for the same reason Microsoft wanted it: the data. But not just any old data. This is data about who works where that salespeople can use to find prospects and do cold calling.
He didn’t get LinkedIn or that data. And the only second choice that’s even close to that kind of thing is Twitter.
Nothing in that observation has changed. As a matter of fact, the more large companies can mine data, the more valuable Twitter becomes.
Twitter, at its current share price, is a bargain again, if someone can use its members for something other than an advertising target.