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Twitter Inc (TWTR) Worth No More Than $26 A Share In Buyout: Analyst

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The takeover speculations for Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) are starting to pick up steam again, with big names like Chris Sacca calling for a buyout. It was reported today that the company is starting to field buyout offers this week, and shares moved higher on the news, even as one analyst warns that most of the upside potential in a buyout scenario may already be baked in.

Meanwhile other firms consider the list of possible suitors, and one makes the case for Alphabet being the most logical buyer for Twitter.

Twitter should sell out before Snapchat takes another bite

Susquehanna analyst Shyam Patil pegs the micro-blogging network’s value at $17 to $26 per share in a buyout, although his wider range is $9 per share (based on Yahoo’s buyout valuation) to $29 per share (based on LinkedIn). He advised the company to sell out before it begins losing share to Snapchat in his report dated October 4.

The analyst noted that Twitter’s fundamentals have gone downhill sharply since the initial public offering as the social network faces challenges in user growth, engagement and monetization. He believes that the network’s share losses to Instagram, which really took off about a year ago, have been a major factor in its recent challenges in securing ad dollars since then.

Will Twitter’s buyout be more rational than others?

Patil also warns that Snapchat could be the next big threat to Twitter as the messaging platform is opening up its API early this month. His checks with ad agencies point to advertiser interest being exceptionally high—so high, in fact, that the interest level is the highest the agencies have seen since Facebook. The analyst’s checks suggest the ad dollars that are currently being spent on Twitter will be a source for advertisers’ initial budgets for advertising on Snapchat.

Because it looks likely that Twitter will lose more market share soon, he believes the company will maximize its value if it sells right now. However, he believes potential buyers already know about the risk from Snapchat, which may cause them to either pause to see what happens when Snapchat opens up or set a big discount on any offer they might make.

Because of Twitter’s high valuation of around $20 billion and the myriad of challenges it faces, Patil believes any potential deal would receive more scrutiny than some of the recent “surprising” deals that he thinks made little sense. However, he also seems to believe that it will be difficult for a deal to be made because he thinks $26 per share might be a “psychological floor” for the company’s board. One reason is because the IPO was $26 per share, and he also notes that Twitter stock was at that level when CEO Jack Dorsey returned to the company.

Alphabet as the most logical suitor?

Addressing the list of possible suitors for Twitter, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Youssef Squali sees Google parent Alphabet as the best fit. In fact, he seems pretty positive on a deal between the two companies, if one can be made. Most analysts would see any deal as a negative for the acquirer in this case.

The main reason Squali likes Alphabet as a suitor for Twitter deals with data because the micro-blogging platform would bring first-party data on 300 million users over to Google’s algorithm. The data would improve targeting and relevance of ads, he says. Additionally, he believes Twitter would be able to help Google integrate more real-time news into search results, specifically, real-time tweets from newsmakers that are already integrated into those results. Squali also likes the social network as a way to plug a major messaging hole in Google’s services.

Of course the argument could be made here that Alphabet doesn’t need to buy the cow to get the milk—one we’ve heard from other analysts about other possible suitors. On the other hand, if Twitter ever nears bankruptcy, a company would have to buy the cow to save its assets, and if the social network keeps heading in its current direction, it might be better for interested parties to move sooner rather than later.

Digging deeper, we see some other more substantial arguments, such as that Alphabet may see more cost synergies than other interested parties and use those synergies to enter the best bid. Squali also suggests that Twitter might help Google become a leading social platform (although it’s hard to envision how combining two of the worst social platforms would create a leader). And finally, he believes YouTube would benefit from adopting the micro-blogging network’s content strategies.

Twitter shares climbed by as much as 4.68% to $24.61 during regular trading hours on Wednesday.

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