Dual Downgrades Put Cloud Over Twitter

Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) has become the social media giant that didn’t live up to its full potential. Despite efforts to expand what would not be counted toward the 140-character posts, and despite efforts to bring more users into and back into Twitter, not everyone is a Twitter bull. In fact, Twitter has hit a post-IPO record low.

The first of the recent negative calls, though it officially has a positive rating, was from Monnes Crespi Hardt. This firm maintained a Buy rating on Twitter, but what was cut was the price target. The new target is $18, down from the previous $22.

The second call came from a firm called MoffettNathanson, which is an independent research boutique. It previously had a Neutral rating on Twitter. This boutique firm downgraded the social media and microblogging company to Sell, and the price target was cut to $12 from $15.

The MoffettNathanson call noted that Twitter is suffering from user fatigue, and it also notes that advertiser fatigue is also present. The firm worries that Twitter’s path ahead could become harder for the company as social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are all competing for the same advertising dollars. Tuesday’s report even noted that Twitter seems to be stuck between Snapchat and Instagram — and a hard place. The keynote was that hope is not a strategy.

Here are some of the changes that Twitter plans to make to its 140 character limits:

  • New tweets beginning with username will reach all followers.
  • The @names in replies and media attachments (photos, gifs, videos and polls) will not count to the limit.
  • When replying to a tweet, @names will also no longer count.
  • When adding attachments, that media will no longer count.
  • Users will be able to use the retweet button on their own tweets (Hey, why did you say that twice? — I didn’t!).

Twitter shares were trading down 3.5% at $13.91 on Tuesday, and the consensus analyst price target was $18.64, down from a prior consensus target of $18.73. That consensus was listed as $20.88 back on April 24.

Twitter’s new 52-week trading range is $13.73 to $38.82. Keep in mind that it still has a $9.7 billion market cap.

Thomson First Call shows that the number of Buy recommendations has been dropping while the number of Sell ratings has been rising. Twelve analysts have Buy or Strong Buy ratings, with 26 Hold or Neutral ratings and six ratings of Sell or Strong Sell.

Twitter’s 2015 revenue was $2.218 billion. Its Thomson First Call consensus estimates have revenue rising to $2.72 billion in 2016, then to $3.29 billion in 2017 and $3.95 billion in 2018.