Twitter Short Interest Surges by 8 Million Shares

October 28, 2018 by Douglas A. McIntyre

Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) posted impressive earnings recently. However, a large group of investors continued to bet that pessimism about the company will drag the shares down. The short interest in Twitter rose 8.5 million shares to 53 million in the period which ended October 15.

Revenue for the most recent quarter reached $758 million, up 29%. However, Average monthly users in Q3 were 326 million, a decrease of 4 million year-over-year and a decrease of 9 million quarter-over-quarter. Twitter has weeded out accounts which it calls a reduction for “health reasons”, a means to keep fake or hate accounts in check. Investors clearly did not mind this, or the fact it may continue.

The company said in its earnings release:

Looking ahead, we expect to see a sequential decline in MAU in Q4 given our ongoing health work, decisions not to renew or move to paid SMS carrier relationships in certain markets, and our decision to allocate resources towards GDPR and health. Based on our current level of visibility, we expect the decline to be mid-single-digit millions of MAU. As a reminder, DAU growth continues to be the best measure of our success in driving the use of Twitter as a daily utility.

Twitter’s shares rose 15% on the earnings news which also included mention of new agreements with major companies like Adidas and Activision Blizzard. These, however, were not enough to move the shares anywhere near their 52-week high of $47.79. Twitter shares closed the week at $32.36. This also means shares are down 22% over the last five years against an advance of 82% by the S&P 500 and 205% by larger rival Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB)

Twitter’s shares were upgraded by several analysts after earnings, but a large number of investors persist in their willingness to believe things will get worse.