Twitter Drops Sharply As User Growth Continues to Slow

Updated from 4:54 p.m. to include analysis on analyst comments in the xx paragraph.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Twitter (TWTR) shares plunged after the social network posted first-quarter results that were better than what Wall Street expected, as the company topped 255 million monthly active users.

For the first quarter, Twitter posted breakeven results on $250.49 million in revenue, as advertising revenue surged 125% year over year to $226 million. The company said mobile advertising revenue was approximately 80% of total advertising revenue, while data licensing and other revenue totaled $24 million, an increase of 76% year-over-year.

When the company reported fourth-quarter results, it gave guidance. The company said it expected 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 were expecting the San Francisco-based Twitter to lose 3 cents a share on $241.47 million in revenue.

The company reached 198 million mobile monthly active users (MAUs) during the quarter, up 31% year-over-year. Timeline views reached 157 billion for the first quarter of 2014, an increase of 15% year-over-year, and advertising revenue per thousand timeline views reached $1.44 in the first quarter of 2014, an increase of 96% year-over-year. Though the company surpassed 255 million MAUs, up 25% year-over-year, the growth is slowing down. In the fourth-quarter of 2013, MAUs grew 30.% year over year.

"We had a very strong first quarter. Revenue growth accelerated on a year over year basis fueled by increased engagement and user growth," said Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter in the press release. "We also continue to rapidly increase our reach and scale. With the integration of MoPub, we now reach more than 1 billion iOS and Android users each month, making us one of the largest in-app mobile ad exchanges in the world and the only one at scale to offer native in-app advertising."


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Initial reaction on Wall Street was negative, as Wall Street continued to question user growth. Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia, who rates shares "neutral" noted the results were a mixed bag. "1Q'14 results were mixed," Bhatia wrote in a note to clients shortly following the results. "Revenue and adjusted EBITDA exceeded expectations while monetization per user was in line. User metrics, including reach and engagement, were slightly better than 4Q but not as strong as the street expected. 2Q guidance is essentially in line. Full year guidance raised slightly."

Twitter shares plunged in after-hours trading, losing 10.2% to $38.26.

Twitter gave guidance for both the second-quarter and fiscal 2014 in its first quarter release. The company said it expects revenue to between $270 million and $280 million in the first-quarter, with adjusted EBITDA between $25 million and $30 million. For the full year, revenue is projected to be between $1.2 billion and $1.25 billion, with adjusted EBITDA between $180 million and $205 million. It also expects capital expenditures between $330 million and $390 million.

Shares of Twitter closed the regular session higher, gaining 4.6% to close at $42.62.

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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