Twitter Scores Yet Another Independent Analyst Sell Rating

The equity analysis team at Standard & Poor’s offers truly independent research because it is not a brokerage firm. So how good does it sound when they initiate coverage of Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) with a Sell rating?

Investors should keep in mind that the report is not all negative. It seems to be the same case we are seeing elsewhere, and that is a valuation call. S&P’s report even said:

We think Twitter has substantial revenue growth potential, given what we see as a notable multinational brand and user base, emerging monetization efforts, and strength in mobile.

The problem arises in Twitter’s spending to support its expansion. S&P noted considerable losses. S&P assigned a 12-month target price of $30, based on a sales and growth model. The report is projecting losses of $0.30 per share in 2013 and $0.14 per share for 2014. The company is projected to have only $0.06 earnings per share in 2015.

Keep in mind that the more than $40 share prices after the IPO opened last week valued Twitter at more than 50 times sales. That is saying that you are valuing this year’s sales all the way out to the year 2063! S&P’s new valuation, even at the $30.00 price target for Twitter, is at 500 times expected 2015 earnings.

Earlier this week came a report from Morningstar, which is also independent research. The firm assigned a Sell rating as well but gave a $26 fair value target.

Options began trading on Twitter on Friday, and the stock was down 1.25% at $44.13 in late-morning trading.

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