Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) stock is down more than 20% year to date, and it reversed Friday’s gains in early trading on Monday after at least two analysts downgraded it. A third bearish from another analyst also suggested today that the micro-blogging platform will again disappoint when it comes to monthly active users in the second quarter.
Engagement data on Twitter isn’t good
Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Graham has a Buy rating and $20 per share price target on Twitter stock, but despite that, his proprietary data doesn’t indicate good things for the micro-blogging platform. He notes that following the company’s first quarter results, Twitter shares plunged 16% as the company missed on ad revenue, although it came out slightly ahead of expectations on monthly active users. Since then, Twitter shares have rebounded by more than 20% and are now up 16% since the last earnings report.
According to Graham, his proprietary engagement data on Twitter suggests that monthly active user growth was flat or “decelerating slightly” during the second quarter and in line with his estimate of 4 million net user adds. He’s cautious about what the company’s guidance will look like because of Brexit and currency headwinds, both of which could also cause other multinationals to guide cautiously for the third quarter. He’s also concerned because it appears that its ad products are still in transition.
He adds that those new ad products aren’t “inspiring confidence” either as he still believes Twitter must make its platform easier to use before user engagement and growth will increase. He believes the pace of new launches has been slow and that the updates have been diminishing in “significance.” He’s also concerned about the “continued rapid turnover” at the top of the company’s core product team, noting that there have been five Product VPs in the last four years. As a result, he thinks the second and third quarters will still be rough in terms of product pace.
On the flip side, however, he does see some potential revenue tailwinds in the second half of the year, including the presidential election in the U.S., the Rio Olympics and the Thursday night NFL deal.
SunTrust downgrades Twitter
SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Robert Peck downgraded Twitter stock from Buy to Neutral but maintained his $18 price target. He noted that user growth and engagement are still challenged even though the company has been releasing new products and services for the purpose of attracting new users. However, he is also optimistic on these offerings’ long-term opportunities.
Additionally, Peck explained that he sees earnings estimates for the second quarter as being reasonable with limited room for upside. He also discussed the likelihood of Twitter becoming an acquisition target, which has been a hot topic since Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn was announced. He believes it’s unlikely that Twitter will be bought this year because CEO Jack Dorsey has been at the helm for less than a year and also due to its “newly constituted board.” Down the road, he sees potential suitors as “larger media/data companies” such as Google, Facebook and Apple (all names which have also been floated by others) and telco companies.
Monness downgrades Twitter, Pivotal cuts target
Also today, Monness Crespi Hardt analyst James Cakmak also downgraded Twitter from Buy to Neutral. He warned that without any changes, the micro-blogging platform is nothing but a niche product in engagement and content contribution. He adds that it will likely continue to be a niche product without any major changes to improve its usability and monetization.
Additionally, Pivotal Research cut its price target on Twitter from $27 to $26 per share. He agrees with the view that the company provides a niche product but called it an “important niche. He believes the company can “settle into its current scale and innovate ad product offerings enough to grow slightly faster than the industry.”
Twitter stock declined by as much as 2.79% to $17.58 per share during morning trading hours on Monday.