Wednesday, July 30 17:12:51
Twitter halted a slowdown in user-growth in the second quarter with the help of product tweaks and services built around the summer's World Cup, assuaging concerns for now that the online messaging service had peaked.
Shares of the company soared 35 percent after it reported monthly active users had risen a better-than-expected 24 percent, chalking up what would be its largest gain in a single day and adding almost $7 billion to its market value.
Twitter, which has battled to reverse a steady decline in its once-heady pace of growth, surpassed targets for virtually every metric Wall Street scrutinizes. Expectations had subsided ever since the company stunned investors in February with disappointingly low user growth.
Before Tuesday's after-hours surge, Twitter had lost about 40 percent of its market value since the start of 2014. The company now needs to demonstrate several quarters of respectable growth before investors can again back the 10-year-old company's growth story, analysts said.
"The expectations going in had become quite low," said Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia. "Even in the U.S. their performance was good. For now, that will put to rest some of the concerns about U.S. growth."
"One would still have to say that the jury is still out," Bhatia said. "You have to look maybe at what happens in the next quarter and see if they can continue to have upside on the user growth."
Twitter saw users increase to 271 million, still dwarfed by rival Facebook Inc's 1.3 billion. Wall Street analysts had been expecting a pace of growth closer to 21 percent.
Timeline views, a measure of the engagement of its users, also exceeded expectations with a 15 percent increase, far outpacing the roughly 8 percent expected.
Twitter, whose rapid-fire format has proven popular as a companion to major global events, may have enjoyed a boost from the World Cup. The world's most popular sporting event peaked with the finals in July.
Chief Executive Dick Costolo said in a conference call with analysts that the football tournament led existing users to spend more time on Twitter but did not contribute to the rise in new users during the quarter.
For the current quarter, Twitter is forecasting revenue of $330 million to $340 million, outpacing forecasts for around $323.7 million, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Its shares jumped to $51.20 in extended trading, from a close of $38.59 on the New York Stock Exchange.
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