Twitter's Market Punishment Has Gone Too Far -- Now It's Time to Buy

 

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When a momentum stock loses steam, it often gets crushed. But at some point, the punishment becomes too harsh for the crime. Although Twitter (TWTR) continues to suffer from weak user engagement -- and because it's not Facebook (FB) --  it's tough to ignore how cheap and depressed Twitter shares have become. So if you're an investor who has been waiting for Twitter to become unloved, now's your chance to pounce.

Over the past three months, a period when the broader averages have traded flat, Twitter has fallen some 23%. True, it's still trading at over 50 times fiscal 2016 earnings estimates of 67 cents per share, so it's tough to argue its shares are cheap. However, if you liked Twitter when it was above $50 or even $40 per share several months ago, then you should love it now in the $37 to $38 trading range it occupied Thursday morning.

The narrative on what Twitter is hasn't really changed. Sure, there have been rumblings and speculation that CEO Dick Costolo may step down. And Chris Sacca, one of Twitter's earliest investors, has become increasingly critical about the company's direction, even suggesting that it should be acquired by Google  (GOOGL). But what do you expect? When a stock has gotten pummeled like Twitter has of late, people want heads to roll. It's a common reaction -- even if boards don't always bring out the ax. It's a good thing the board of directors at Apple (AAPL), for instance, ignored the pleas to get rid of Tim Cook two years ago

In the case of Twitter, last quarter's earnings miss certainly didn't help its case. Still, there were several positive aspects in the report too, suggesting that, while the stock may be underperforming, the company is not. The 72% year-over-year increase in ad revenue, reaching almost $400 million, was one example.

Also worth noting: Mobile engagement now represents 89% of ad revenue (up 1 percentage point sequentially), which suggests Twitter is making progress on the kind of improvements that catapulted Facebook to mobile ad dominance. As you may recall, Facebook's critics at one point questioned Mark Zuckerberg's leadership. Why? The stock was down, and he wore a hoodie. Today, no one's complaining.

From my vantage point, the only thing that has changed regarding Twitter is Wall Street's opinion of how quickly it can monetize its business and make money for investors. That's an important factor, of course. But it's not Twitter's fault earlier expectations were so high.

Again, expectations -- at one point -- were also too high for Facebook. Facebook eventually figured out its mobile strategy and became an advertising behemoth. And a strong case can be made that Twitter will figure it out, too. And it can't hurt that Google will once-again have access to Twitter's real-time data stream of tweets.

With Google now able to query and display tweets in its search results that can take users directly to the originating Twitter page, user engagement is likely to benefit. To the extent it helps Twitter acquire more users and sell more ads, it will be a success. The fact that costs it costs Twitter nothing is icing on the cake.

To sum up: Momentum stocks like Twitter sometimes get crushed and never recover. But as Facebook, Apple and Netflix (NFLX) , among others have proved so enthusiastically, momentum stocks can also recover. And I've seen nothing to suggest Twitter doesn't belong in the latter category.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held shares of Apple.

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