Twitter shares jump 18% after user growth exceeded forecasts


Shares in Twitter jumped 18 percent on Thursday after the social media company said revenue and user numbers exceeded forecasts in the latest quarter, though profit fell as expenses rose.

Twitter stock was trading at $39.56 at 12.35pm on Thursday, an increase of 18.48 percent, after Wednesday’s earnings report cheered investors. 

The company averaged 152 million daily users during the last three months of the year, up from 145 million during the previous quarter. 

The short messaging service had revenue of $1.01 billion during the quarter, a 11 percent increase and the first time revenue surpassed $1 billion.

Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal called it a ‘new milestone’ for revenue. He said performance was solid in most of the world, with particularly strong advertising revenue in the U.S.

However, the San Francisco-based tech company said that fourth-quarter net income fell to $119 million, or 15 cents per share, missing expectations. That’s down from $255 million, or 33 cents, in the same period a year earlier. 

While the net income figure was below analyst forecasts for $231 million, other figures cheered investors, sending shares up a sharp 16% to $38.88 in late morning trading Thursday.

The sales figure was on the upper end of market expectations, according to data provider FactSet. And the number of active daily users was above the forecast for 147 million.

Last year, Twitter started disclosing its daily user base, or the number of users who log in at least once a day and see ads on the platform. The daily metric has replaced its monthly user count, which Twitter said it will no longer disclose. Other companies, such as Facebook, give both daily and monthly counts.

Twitter executives said the company is making it a priority to clean up its platform.

‘We’ll increase healthy public conversation,’ CEO Jack Dorsey said on a call with analysts. ‘Misleading information is probably the biggest challenge facing us and our industry. This will be a key focus for us.’

Tech companies have been stepping up their efforts to remove misinformation, abuse, hate speech and spam. 

In Twitter’s latest move, announced this week, the company said it will start labeling or even taking down doctored or manipulated photos, audio and videos designed to mislead people.

All that requires more staff, contributing to a 22% increase in expenses, to $854 million. Twitter expects to grow staff company-wide by at least 20% in 2020, and expenses will grow about 20% as well.

For the full year, Twitter had net income of $1.47 billion on revenue of $3.46 billion. For the current quarter, Twitter forecasts revenue to come in between $825 million and $885 million.

Dorsey said he wanted Twitter’s staff to be less focused on San Francisco, in an indication that he thinks the company should look more to fast-growing international markets.

‘Our concentration in San Francisco is not serving us any longer,’ Dorsey said. ‘We’ll strive to be a far more distributed workforce which will help us improve our execution.’ 


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