Twitter Inc (TWTR) Remains A Sell Despite Positive Sentiment

Twitter Inc (TWTR) Remains A Sell Despite Positive Sentiment
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Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) releases its first earnings report after closing bell on February 5th, and Wall Street is just dying to be impressed. If investors are impressed, shares could go through the roof… again. And if they aren’t impressed, well, the backlash could be just as bad the other way.

Twitter expected to beat

Cantor Fitzgerald analysts Youssef Squali, Naved Khan and Kip Paulson say they see more upside than downside potential for Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), and like most other analysts, they expect a positive surprise in tonight’s report.

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They’re projecting about 100% total revenue growth and 115% ad revenue growth. They estimate fourth quarter revenue of $228.3 million, which is ahead of consensus estimates of $218 million. They expect to see losses per share of 2 cents, which is in line with consensus. Their EBITDA estimate is $9.7 million with a 4.2% margin, which is below the consensus estimate of $24.7 million. However, they note that the range of this last number is extremely wide.

Why they like Twitter

The analysts suggest that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s accelerating ad revenue growth in its December quarter report could be a clue about what to expect from Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR). They note that social media spending is still taking share of integrated ad budgets, and they expect strong growth in this area to continue this year.

They also expect that Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) will report strong growth in the metrics of its underlying users. They’re expecting a 36.9% year over year increase in monthly active users, which would bring that number to 253 million. They also expect timeline views per monthly active user to rise 8.9% year over year to 692 with total timeline views of 173.4 billion. They project ad revenue per 1,000 timeline views to rise 44.4% year over year to $1.22.

In addition, the Cantor Fitzgerald team call Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) the “best in class mobile offering,” as the company said in its S1 filing that 76% of monthly active users accessed its services from mobile devices. More than 70% of its ad revenue came from mobile at that time.

But Twitter’s valuation remains high

In spite of their positive expectations for Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), they kept their Sell rating and $32 per share price target on the company’s stock. They see the valuation as being too high, and they also note that we are quickly approaching large lockup expirations, which could send shares downward as well. The lockup on 9.9 million shares ends on Feb. 15, while the lockup on an additional 454.3 million shares ends on May 7.

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