Social media giant Twitter (TWTR) - Get Twitter, Inc. Report is set to report first-quarter earnings results after the closing bell Tuesday. Don't hold your breath expecting great results or a quick turnaround. But the stock, from a risk vs. reward perspective, is likely to go higher on the results.
For the quarter that ended in March, the average analyst earnings-per-share estimate predicts the San Francisco-based company earns 10 cents per share on revenue of $607.84 million, translating to year-over-year growth of 42.8% and 39.4%, respectively. For the full year ending in December, earnings are projected to climb 37.5% year over year, while full-year revenue of $2.96 billion would mark a 33.5% rise from the same period a year ago.
The once-heralded Wall Street darling turned punching bag has a lot to prove. Twitter must show it can grow its user base and has figured out how to make money from the users that it has -- two things CEO Jack Dorsey, since his return last year, promised to deliver. Investors are still waiting.
Jim Cramer and Research Director Jack Mohr commented on Twitter earnings on Friday. "We think investor focus will continue to be on monthly active users .... If MAUs come in flat, profitability within the company's core advertising business will likely be severely constrained for the balance of the year. On the call, we will be interested in engagement trends, the company's recent deal with the NFL to live-stream Thursday night games, color around Periscope (especially given competition from Facebook Live), recent changes to its board of directors and potential for expansion into China."
Twitter stock reflects the pessimism the market feels about the company's turnaround potential. Based on Friday's closing price of $17.23, this means that shares are trading almost 70% below their 52-week high. They have lost more than 38% of their value since Dorsey resumed his role as CEO on Oct. 5. Twitter stock is down 25.5% year to date.
As Twitter stock has declined, its short interest has increased in each of the past three reporting sessions. According to Nasdaq, the short interest on Twitter shares has risen 22% since Jan. 29, from around 46.2 million shares to 54.4 million as of the more recent reporting period. And the days to cover the short position has risen from 1.7 days on average to 3.1 days.
The short sellers, who now control 10% of outstanding Twitter shares, have gotten more bold and comfortable about their position. With the options market pricing in about a 13% move up or down on Twitter on the earnings results, this presents a compelling opportunity to play contrarian and buy Twitter stock now.
Why? All of the bad news about the company is likely out. And it's hard to imagine there's another shoe to drop. Anyone who's wanted to sell their shares has likely already done so when the stock reached its 52-week low of $13.91 in February. A 13% move upward would put the stock at around $19.50. If it breaks $20 on a beat and raise, good luck catching it.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.