Wedbush Skeptical Twitter Inc (TWTR) Can Deliver Profits to Shareholders; Trims Price Target

Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) shares were falling 12% yesterday after a fourth-quarter print revealed a revenue miss, MAU growth shortcoming, and a loss in advertiser interest that has Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter increasingly wary on the company’s future prospects. On the heels of a rough fourth-quarter earnings release, the analyst reiterates a Neutral rating on shares of TWTR while trimming the price target from $14 to $13, which represents a 20% downside from current levels.

For the fourth quarter, TWTR yielded $717 million, which underperformed both the analyst’s projection of $750 million as well as consensus of $740 million. However, the company did fall mid-range of its own implied guidance of $688 to $788 million. The silver lining of the print was Twitter’s EBITDA, which reached $215 million, outclassing the analyst’s expectations calling for $185 million, which was already more bullish than consensus of $182 million. Additionally, EBITDA topped guidance of $164 to $179 million. Non-GAAP EPS of $0.16 also brought in a beat compared to the analyst’s estimate of $0.13 and consensus of $0.12, which the analyst attributes to “lower costs associated with the consolidation of sales channels in Q4.”

However, Pachter believes, “Despite a sustained acceleration in DAUs and double-digit engagement growth, the shortfall in advertising revenue highlights a lagging ROI proposition for advertisers relative to peers at least for the time being.”

Ultimately, “We remain skeptical of the company’s ability to deliver economic profits to its shareholders. We modeled stock-based compensation at the midpoint of guidance for a year-over-year decline of 15 – 20%. This results in SBC of $508 million, which represents 68% of adjusted EBITDA. More importantly, SBC in the first half is modeled at $254 million, or 97% of our estimated adjusted EBITDA. We firmly believe that until Twitter is able to deliver the lion’s share of its adjusted EBITDA to its shareholders, its stock will continue to trade at a depressed multiple. Without user growth, we are skeptical that the company can materially grow revenues beyond current levels,” Pachter concludes, quizzical that the struggling social media giant’s “multiple changes” will be able to alter its bumpy course.

As usual, we like to include the analyst’s track record when reporting on new analyst notes to give a perspective on the effect it has on stock performance. According to TipRanks, Michael Pachter is ranked #4,099 out of 4,395 analysts. Pachter has a 48% success and loses 3.5% in his annual returns. When recommending TWTR, Pachter earns 0.0% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics demonstrate TWTR as a Hold. Out of 25 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 3 are bullish on Twitter stock, 16 remain sidelined, and 6 are bearish on the stock. With a loss potential of 3%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $15.88.

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