Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) posted earnings for the first quarter of 2015 and lowered full-year 2015 estimates. The report was scheduled to be released after market close yesterday, but a financial analytics firm found a link to the report before it was publicized and posted it on Twitter in the early afternoon. By the end of the day, Twitter shares were down about 18%.
After analysts appreciated the irony that a Twitter report was released early via Twitter, analysts quickly noticed the bleak quarterly revenue. Analysts had estimated that Twitter would post quarterly revenue of $456.8 million while Twitter’s own forecast had predicted revenue between $440 million and $450 million. Twitter missed both estimates and posted $436 million in quarterly revenue, though still marking a 74% year-over-year increase. Disregarding foreign exchange headwinds, Twitter’s revenue would have increased 80% from the same quarter last year. Advertising revenue made up nearly 89% of total revenue; a 72% year-over-year increase. International revenue in general totalled $147 million, marking a 109% year-over-year increase.
Twitter posted a loss of ($0.25) per share on a GAAP basis, just slightly wider than the analyst consensus of ($0.24). This is a slightly wider gap than ($0.23) in the same quarter last year.
Looking forward, Twitter is projecting second quarter revenue between $470 million and $485 million. For the full year-year 2015, Twitter is projecting revenue between $2.170 billion and $2.270 billion, which is substantially lower than the analyst consensus of $2.38 billion.
CEO Dick Costolo assured investors there is a reason to stay optimistic, commenting, “…We have a strong pipeline that we believe will drive increased value for direct response advertisers in the future. We remain confident in our strategy and in Twitter’s long-term opportunity, and our focus remains on creating sustainable shareholder value by executing against our three priorities: strengthening the core, reducing barriers to consumption and delivering new apps and services.”
Twitter has been under pressure from investors to accelerate user growth. Twitter reported 302 million monthly active users (MAUs) for the first quarter, an 18% year-over-year increase and compared to 288 million in the previous quarter. Twitter also highlighted new partnerships with Google, Flipboard, and Yahoo Japan, which are expected to broaden the reach of promoted tweets.
Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research was the first analyst to rate Twitter following the report. Wieser upgraded Twitter to from Hold to Buy but lowered his price target from $54 to $50. Wieser commented, “Overall, Twitter’s long-term potential as a differentiated niche offering in digital advertising is mostly uncharged.” He lowered his price target because of slightly decreased expectations of Twitter’s ability to “capture a growing share of global digital advertising.”
Brian Wieser has rated Twitter 15 times since October 2013, earning a 70% success rate recommending the stock with a +11.7% average return per TWTR recommendation. Overall, Wieser has an 87% success rate recommending stocks with a +21.6% average return per recommendation.
On the contrary, Victor Anthony of Axiom downgraded Twitter from Buy to Hold following the earnings report and lowered his price target from $63 to $45. Anthony remains confident in Twitter’s long-term profitability due to “product enhancements and advertiser products” that should drive “user and revenue growth.” However in the near-term, Anthony remains pragmatic because “near-term operating risks are exerting pressure on revenue growth, and MAUs have begun to slow once again.” The analyst added, “[Twitter] management blamed the revenue shortfall on lower revenues from direct response advertisers, who walked away from spending due to higher bids. Growth of mobile App downloads, a direct response ad unit, was strong but declined sequentially.”
Victor Anthony has rated Twitter 16 times since October 2013, earning a 79% success rate recommending the stock with a +9.8% average return per TWTR rating. Overall, Anthony has a 76% success rate recommending stocks with a +20.9% average return per recommendation.
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