Why Twitter Cannot Get Its Act Together

Print Email

Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) reported its fourth-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Thursday. The company posted $0.16 in earnings per share (EPS) and $717 million in revenue, versus consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters of $0.12 in EPS and revenue of $740.14 million. In the same period of last year, the company reported EPS of $0.16 and $710.47 million in revenue.

Advertising revenue totaled $638 million, down slightly from last year. Mobile advertising revenue was 89% of total advertising revenue. Data licensing and other revenue totaled $79 million, an increase of 14% from the fourth quarter in 2016.

U.S. revenue totaled $440 million, a decrease of 5%. International revenue totaled $277 million, an increase of 12% year over year. Total advertising engagements were up 151% year over year.

Average monthly active users totaled 319 million for the quarter, up 4% year over year and compared to 317 million in the third quarter. Average daily active usage grew 11% year over year, an acceleration from 7% in the third quarter, 5% in the second quarter and 3% in the first quarter of 2016.

At the same time, Tweet impressions and time spent on Twitter also remained strong, with each increasing by double-digit percentages in the fourth quarter on a year-over-year basis.

In terms of the outlook for the first quarter, Twitter expects to see adjusted EBITDA between $75 million and $95 million, with that margin in the range of 17.0% to 17.5%. The consensus estimates call for $0.14 in EPS and $628.83 million in revenue.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, commented:

2016 was a transformative year as we reset and focused on why people use Twitter: it’s the fastest way to see what’s happening and what everyone’s talking about. We overcame the toughest challenge for any consumer service at scale by reversing declining audience trends and re-accelerating usage. As a result, in the fourth quarter, daily active usage accelerated for the third consecutive quarter, and we see this strong growth continuing. While revenue growth continues to lag audience growth, we are applying the same focused approach that drove audience growth to our revenue product portfolio, focusing on our strengths and the real-time nature of our service. This will take time, but we’re moving fast to show results.

Shares of Twitter closed Wednesday up 2.5% at $18.72, with a consensus analyst price target of $16.57 and a 52-week trading range of $13.73 to $25.25. Following the release of the earnings report, the stock was down more than 9% at $16.92 in early trading indications Thursday.