Twitter user growth has totally stagnated but earnings beat Wall Street expectations

 
Lynsey Barber
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Twitter did not grow at all in terms of user numbers (Source: Getty)

Twitter shares have dived more than 12 per cent as the US market opened, despite second quarter results beating analyst forecasts as it failed to attract any new users.

The figures

Revenue came in at $574m (£436.9m), down five per cent on the same period last year, but ahead of the $536.7m expected by analysts. Earnings per share were 12 cents versus the five cents expected for the second quarter.

But the social network is still falling down when it comes to growth. It reported 328m active users per month - exactly the same number as the previous quarter. Analysts had expected it to add at least one million new users.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation came in at $178m, up two per cent year-on-year and up four per cent on the previous quarter.

Why it's interesting

Twitter's travails are well known: despite the platform driving a huge amount of the news agenda these days, it is struggling both to get more people using it and to find ways to make money from it.

Investors had been perked up by Dorsey's efforts to turn things around last quarter and Twitter's often flighty share price is up 19 per cent since the start of the year. Shares had flown above the $20 mark earlier this month for the first time this year.

However, the latest figures suggest it's not quite back on track yet.

What Twitter said

Chief executive Jack Dorsey tried to put a good spin on the stagnation, citing year-on-year and daily active user growth, though it does not quantify the latter.

We're proud that the product improvements we're making continue to increase their overall contribution to Twitter's growth. Monthly active usage (MAU) increased five per cent year-over-year and daily active usage (DAU) increased 12 per cent year-over-year, marking the third consecutive quarter of double digit growth.

We’re strengthening our execution, which gives us confidence that our product improvements will continue to contribute to meaningful increases in daily active usage.

The rate of growth in DAUs slowed on last quarter's 14 per cent, but was up on the five per cent of the same quarter in 2016.

Twitter finance chief Anthony Noto insisted product changes made in the quarter continued to contribute to user growth on an earnings call, but that was “offset by other factors”, though he did not elaborate on what those factors were.

He added that it would continue to focus on daily active users, despite not telling investors what those numbers are.

Asked to explain the stagnation, Noto said it largely came from the US, but "we don't have data on causal impact" - essentially, Twitter doesn't know why.

Facebook said on Wednesday evening it had added 70m users in the quarter, surpassing 2bn MAUs for the first time. Newly floated rival Snap does not disclose monthly numbers either. In terms of DAUs, it added 8m in its most recent quarter, hitting 166m. It's due to update the market with second quarter earnings in a fortnights time.

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