Twitter posts bigger 4Q profit, monthly user base slips

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Twitter’s revenue and profit and its daily user base all grew in the final three months of 2018, capping its first profitable year.

But its monthly user count slipped and guidance for the current quarter was below expectations, sending shares down 10 percent at the opening bell Thursday.

The San Francisco company disclosed its daily user base count for the first time, putting the figure at 126 million, up 9 percent from a year earlier. These are users who see ads on the platform and log in at least once a day.

Twitter posted earnings of $255 million, or 33 cents per share, in the October-December quarter. That is up from $91 million, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue grew 24 percent to $909 million.

Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting earnings of 25 cents per share and revenue of $867 million.

Its monthly user base fell to 321 million, from 326 million. Twitter attributed the decline to sending fewer email notifications, moving away from its SMS service with phone carriers and working to cut down malicious accounts and focusing on the “health” of conversations on its service. It said abuse reports from people who interacted with their harasser declined 16 percent from a year ago, though it did not give overall numbers.

The company had an increase in daily users who log in to Twitter on a mobile device versus those who use only desktop computers. Suspicious accounts, such as those run by bots to send spam or game the service in some other day are much more prevalent on desktop computers than on mobile.

Expenses increased 13 percent to $704 million as Twitter added more employees and from revenue share costs related to its video offerings.

For the current quarter ending in April, Twitter said it expects revenue in the range of $715 million to $775 million. Analysts surveyed by Zacks had expected revenue of $762.5 million, which is higher than the midpoint of the company’s outlook.

Dan Morgan, a senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Co. who focuses on tech stocks, said the quarter was a strong one, but investors are selling the stock because of the guidance.

Twitter’s stock fell $3.53, or 10.4 percent, to $30.62. The stock has traded between $25.76 and $47.79 in the past 52 weeks.

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