Updated from 11:38 a.m. to include additional comments from Sterne Agee analyst.
At the end of 2013, Twitter actually beat Wall Street estimates, earning 2 cents a share on $242.7 million in revenue during the quarter, but Wall Street became exceptionally concerned about the company's user growth rate.
The San Francisco-based company ended 2013 with 241 million monthly active users (MAUs), up 30% year over year, with the majority, 184 million, via mobile. Twitter added just 9 million users from the third quarter of 2013, a paltry number when compared with the likes of Facebook (FB), LinkedIn (LNKD) and other social networks around the world.
On the firm's earnings call, CEO Dick Costolo became defensive, noting Twitter had to make itself easier for people to use."We have initiatives to improve new user experience, integrate rich media, enhance conversations, better organize content," Costolo said. The CEO went on to say that he didn't think anything needed to change about the platform, just to make it a better experience for all. "We don't think we need to change anything about the characteristics of our platform. We need to make Twitter a better Twitter."
Shares of Twitter were higher in Wednesday trading, gaining 2.5% to $41.73 ahead of the results.
So far, Twitter has done a few of these initiatives to make it more visually appealing and easier for people to get on the service and use it. Twitter has changed the process for signing up from a mobile device, allowed users to find their first tweets, and recently announced changes to users' profiles, making them look more like Facebook profiles.
When the company reported fourth-quarter results, it surprised some by actually giving guidance, a rare occurrence for a growing technology company. For the first quarter, it expects revenue to be in the range of $230 million to $240 million, with Adjusted EBITDA between $10 million and $16 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are expecting the San Francisco-based Twitter to lose 3 cents a share on $241.47 million in revenue.
TheStreet will be live-blogging the results, starting 3:45 p.m. EST.
By and large, analysts were mixed on the company's prospects going into the quarter, with some remaining cautious due to the sharp drop in technology stocks recently. Here's what a few of them had to say: