Twitter Shares Spike as 4Q Results Fly Above Expectations

NEW YORK (AP) -

Twitter shares spiked over 16 percent on Friday afternoon, as the messaging service shrank losses and nearly doubled quarterly revenue by drawing more users and expanding its advertising offerings.

Twitter’s user growth continued to lag other popular social networks. The company had 288 million monthly users at the end of the quarter, up 20 percent from a year earlier. But the pace of growth slowed in the fourth quarter, something Twitter attributed to changes in the way third-party apps integrate Twitter. CEO Dick Costolo said Twitter expects to add a similar number of net users in the first quarter as it did in the first three quarters of 2014.

By comparison, LinkedIn Corp. on Thursday reported 347 million users through the end of December. The Facebook-owned photo-sharing app Instagram, meanwhile, recently surpassed 300 million users. None come close to Facebook, however, with its 1.39 billion members.

The San Francisco-based company was still privately held for part of the year-ago quarter – it went public in November 2013. For the final three months of 2014, it had losses of $125.4 million, or 20 cents per share, down sharply from a loss of $511.5 million, or $1.41 per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, Twitter earned $79.3 million, or 12 cents per share – double the 6 cents expected by analysts, according to FactSet.

Revenue surged to $479.1 million from $242.7 million, also topping analysts’ average estimate of $453.8 million. Mobile-advertising revenue amounted to 88 percent of Twitter’s total ad revenue. International revenue was $164 million, or about a third of the quarter’s total ad revenue. That’s well over double last year’s as the company worked to expand overseas.

For the current quarter, Twitter is forecasting revenue of $440 million to $450 million. The midpoint is slightly below analysts’ $449.5 million estimate.

On Thursday, Twitter’s stock closed before the report at $41.26, a decline of 37.5 percent over the past year amid concerns about its ability to broaden its audience. By Friday afternoon, the shares were trading at $48.10, a 16.6 percent jump from Thursday’s close.