The stock price plunge at Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) began on April 29 when the company reported first-quarter results that included a marked slowdown in user growth. Shares are down nearly 25% since then, and although the weekly drop is getting smaller, the slide continues.
Let’s review. After reporting earnings, shares slipped 8.5%. The next big drop came on May 6, the day when the company’s post-IPO lockup period ended and insiders could begin selling some 560 million shares. Shares dropped nearly 18% and slipped a bit lower the next day before wiggling back up a few points.
Last Monday, shares opened the week’s trading at $33.08, about a buck higher than their closing price on the preceding Friday. By week’s end, shares closed at $32.26, a further decline of 2.5%.
What is interesting is that since the lock-up period expired, analysts have raised their ratings on Twitter:
- Morgan Stanley from Underperform to Neutral
- Merrill Lynch from Underperform to Neutral
- SunTrust Robinson Humphrey from Neutral to Buy with a price target of $45
- Atlantic Equities from Underweight to Neutral with a price target of $35
- Wunderlich from Sell to Hold with a $38 price target
We have not seen a single downgrade since all those locked-up shares were let loose.
The enthusiasm for Twitter stock is lukewarm at best. Of the five ratings noted here, four started at the equivalent of Sell and were raised only to Hold. That’s not a ringing endorsement for a stock that trades at 23 times sales and 129 times forward earnings. We noted last week that buyers are basing their decision to acquire the stock on a story that has the company hitting its stride in 2016 and later.
The big doses of bad news about Twitter are over until the company’s next earnings report, due sometime in late July. Until then, shares will bounce around, with small gains offset by small losses.