Twitter Inc Moves Higher Ahead Of Earnings

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Twitter is scheduled to release its next earnings report tomorrow after closing bell, and the company already preannounced some metrics. Of course there are still plenty others that are yet to be reported, and user growth numbers are front and center.

Today shares of Twitter climbed as much as 2.64% to $31.08 per share during regular trading hours.

What to expect in Twitter’s earnings report

As has been the case since the company went public, there are concerns about user growth. Twitter management already preannounced that revenue and adjusted EBITDA will be at or higher than the high end of the guidance they issued in the previous earnings report. That guidance was for revenue of between $545 million and $560 million and adjusted EBITDA of between $110 million and $115 million.

The FactSet consensus estimates are $559.8 million in revenue and $116.9 million in adjusted EBITDA. For non-GAAP earnings, Wall Street is looking for 5 cents per share.

Twitter’s ad revenue still growing

Twitter has been showing strong growth in the area of ad revenue, and Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Youssef Squali expects this to continue. He’s estimating a 57.2% year over year growth rate, which would bring it to $503.5 billion but mark a deceleration from the previous quarter’s 63.2% growth rate. The analyst expects the growth in this area to continue next year, as he’s projecting 54% growth in 2016.

He believes monetization will be the main drive rather than user growth, with his estimate of revenue per monthly active user to climb 40.5% to $1.57. That’s a slight deceleration from the previous quarter’s 41.5% growth.

He notes that Twitter stopped breaking out Timeline views but added that estimates from comScore indicate that the average user spent 2.4 minutes per day in September, compared to 2.6 minutes in June and 2.8 minutes in March. He expects the recently launched Moments feature to begin having a positive impact on user engagement in the December quarter.

Focus on Twitter’s user growth

The Cantor Fitzgerald analyst expects Twitter to grow its monthly active user base by 11.9% year over year to 321 million, which would mean that the micro-blogging platform added about 5 million new users during the third quarter. Again, this is a deceleration from the second quarter when Twitter added 8 million users and the first quarter when the company added 16 million. However, he also said it’s “consistent with the lower visibility” in monthly active user trends.

Squali has a Buy rating and $50 per share price target on Twitter.

Remaining patient with Twitter

Brean Capital analysts Sarah Hindlian and Frederick Havemeyer said it’s “too soon to give up on Twitter” for several reasons. First, they note that it does take time for turnarounds to be executed. Also they especially like the new Moments feature and see “substantial value for digital marketing.”

They also note that Twitter is planning a new ad campaign to “re-engage “its monthly active users. Further, they said their checks with the micro-blogging platform’s marketing partners suggest that advertisers have been shifting “large” amounts of their budgets toward digital advertising for the fourth quarter around special events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They think Twitter has pricing power in these areas.

Further, they note that the deals with Google and Doubleclick should start kicking in during the fourth quarter, and they say that all the comparisons between Twitter and Facebook don’t make sense because there are different use cases for each of them. And finally, the Brean Capital analysts like the company’s selection of cofounder Jack Dorsey as CEO and Adam Bain as chief operating officer.

In spite of these positives, they expect tomorrow’s earnings report to show weak user growth, noting that management has warned of this repeatedly. In fact, the analysts think the buy side “is bracing for potentially flat-to-negative” net adds for monthly active users, which would be around 316 million. As a result, they’ve trimmed their estimate from 428 million to 320 million.

What about the fourth quarter?

Twitter is expected to provide guidance for the fourth quarter with tomorrow’s earnings report, and most analysts expect Dorsey to guide conservatively in order to establish a solid track record. The consensus estimates suggest $738.7 million in revenue and $199 million in adjusted EBITDA for the quarter.

The Brean Capital team is ahead of consensus at $739.8 million in revenue. They have a Buy rating and $47 per share price target on Twitter going into tomorrow’s earnings report.

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