NEW YORK (TheStreet) --Despite beating Wall Street's earnings estimates, Twitter's (TWTR) - Get Report stock took a beating after the company reported adding just 2 million new core users last quarter.
For the quarter, Twitter added 8 million new users in total, but that includes SMS Fast Followers, people who receive tweets as text messages rather than through an actual account. Twitter reported 304 million monthly active users (MAUs), excluding Fast Followers, compared to last quarter where it reported 302 million monthly active users, excluding Fast Followers.
"To be clear, however, we do not expect to see sustained meaningful growth in MAUs until we start to reach the mass market," Anthony Noto, Twitter's chief financial officer, said in the company's earnings call. "We expect that will take a considerable period of time."
Shares were down sharply, falling 11% in pre-market trading to $32.37. And unfortunately, the company doesn't expect user growth to change significantly in the near term.
The company generated $502 million in revenue in the quarter, up 61% year over year. Adjusted earnings were 7 cents a share, topping expectations of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who had expected 4 cents a share.
Unlike shareholders, analysts weren't unoptimistic about Twitter's future success. While the user growth was disappointing, several analysts said once the company announces its next CEO, it will bring some much-needed stability. The other aspects of Twitter's earnings that gave analysts hope were: the impending roll-out of Project Lightning, the strengthening of partnerships with companies such as Google (GOOG) - Get Report (GOOGL) - Get Report and increased advertising revenue, which grew to $475 million excluding the foreign exchange effect, up 71% year-over-year.
Here's what some of them had to say:
Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Youssef Squali (Buy, $50 PT)
"While uncertainty around user growth in 2nd quarter, an integrated marketing campaign this fall and new product launches/enhancements could keep the stock range-bound near-term, we believe that the long-term thesis around Twitter remains intact, given 1) its differentiated offering as the largest real-time broadcasting platform with over 300M MAUs, 2) growing level of monetization, and 3) material financial leverage over time."
Barclays analyst Paul Vogel (Equal weight, $40 PT)
"By the company's own admission, Twitter remains challenging to use and understand for the mass market consumer. The value proposition is still poorly understood, despite high overall awareness of the product. New products such as instant timeline and a focus on logged-out users have yet to provide any meaningful uptick to user growth or engagement. Importantly, engagement seems to have fallen off a bit, as the company shared that daily active users as a percentage of monthly actives is now 44% in the top 20 markets, down from the 48% reported at its analyst day nine months ago."
JMP Securities analyst Ronald Josey (Market outperform, $43 PT)
"Despite engagement issues, we are buyers on weakness in shares as we continue to believe Twitter's larger opportunity and strategic value is intact. We note several potential catalysts in 2H15 around the launch of new products (namely project Lightning), an integrated marketing campaign to attract users, and the continued roll-out of the Google search partnership."
Pacific Crest analyst Evan Wilson (Overweight, $52 PT)
"Per usual, Twitter beat Q2 estimates but missed user targets. Monetization bulls and user bears have another reason to stay entrenched in this battleground stock. Results were close enough to normal that the announcement of the new CEO, which we expect in Q4, should be the next catalyst for long-term sentiment; we remain positive on TWTR in front of a new direction."
SunTrust analyst Robert Peck (Neutral, $38)
"With Twitter in the midst of a turnaround, a key investor question is the timeline for the CEO search. Twitter did not provide any color and Jack Dorsey did not clarify if he is a permanent CEO contender. We continue to believe Adam Bain is the most likely successor. Further, mgmt. would not clarify if it has engaged any bankers."
Jefferies analyst Brian Pitz (Buy, $56)
"We remain bullish on the prospects of LT user and engagement improvement as Twitter has, and will continue to, iterate the product. Improved curation, coming in the form of Project Lightning in fall and shifts away from the reverse chronological timeline are the next steps in attempting to execute on Dorsey's plan. Additionally, Twitter will be ramping unified marketing efforts to help close the gap between its 95% aided global awareness and 30% penetration in top markets."
Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler (Buy, $50 PT)
"2Q net revenue/EBITDA exceeded the high end of prior guidance by 4% and 18% respectively driven by the strong performance in both US and International regions. Specifically, ad revenue growth +71% ex-fx was solid, and came $20m above consensus. Ad load increased in both US and International during 2Q but at 1/3rd of maximum ad load, Twitter still has significant runway left to drive revenue growth even if MAU remains flat."
Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Graham (Buy, $45 PT)
"Though brand advertisers are still the majority, direct response advertisers are growing fastest from improvements in targeting, measurement, and creative in conjunction with the TellApart acquisition. Q4 will benefit from TellApart's focus on the retail vertical, which has been historically under-penetrated by Twitter."
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.