When Twitter Earnings Meet a Huge Snafu

Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) was supposed to report its first-quarter earnings on Tuesday after the markets closed, but its financial results were leaked before the closing bell. The social media giant had $0.07 in earnings per share (EPS) on $436 million in revenue, versus Thomson Reuters consensus estimates of $0.04 in EPS on $456.82 million in revenue. The same period from last year had no earnings on $250.49 million in revenue.

Twitter said that its first-quarter revenues were affected by a lower-than-expected contribution from its newer direct response products. Twitter expects this revenue impact to continue for the remainder of the fiscal year. Unfortunately for Twitter, that is not what investors were hoping to hear.

The company gave guidance for the second quarter of 2015. Twitter expects revenue to be in the range of $470 million to $485 million and adjusted EBITDA to be $97 million to $102 million. There are consensus estimates of $0.07 in EPS on $538.16 million in revenue.

Average monthly active users (MAUs) were 302 million for the first quarter, up 18% year-over-year and compared to 288 million in the previous quarter. Average mobile MAUs represented approximately 80% of total MAUs.

During this quarter, Twitter announced a definitive agreement to acquire TellApart, which is a leading marketing technology company that provides retailers and e-commerce advertisers with unique cross-device retargeting capabilities through dynamic product ads and email marketing.

Twitter also announced a partnership with Google’s DoubleClick platform to improve advertising performance measurement and attribution for Twitter direct response marketers. As part of the partnership, Twitter will also make its inventory available through the DoubleClick Bid Manager, making it easier for clients who prefer to centralize their buying through DBM to create and manage campaigns on Twitter.

Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, said:

While we exceeded our EBITDA target for the first quarter, revenue growth fell slightly short of our expectations due to lower-than-expected contribution from some of our newer direct response products. It is still early days for these products, and we have a strong pipeline that we believe will drive increased value for direct response advertisers in the future. We remain confident in our strategy and in Twitter’s long-term opportunity, and our focus remains on creating sustainable shareholder value by executing against our three priorities: strengthening the core, reducing barriers to consumption and delivering new apps and services.

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Shares of Twitter were down 5.8% at $48.67 late Tuesday just after the leak when shares were halted. After they resumed trading, shares were down about 20% at $41.50 — and they were down 18.2% at the closing bell at $42.27 (unofficial close). The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $54.11 and a 52-week trading range of $29.51 to $55.99.

By the way, a special “attaboy” should be handed out to SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, which downgraded Twitter just a day ahead of the report.

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