Twitter tops Wall Street revenue target, user growth slows

Thu Feb 5, 2015 5:48pm EST
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By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter Inc (TWTR.N: Quote) said on Thursday the social media company is signing up users as quickly as most of last year after a fourth-quarter slowdown, boosting its shares 11 percent.

Twitter beat Wall Street's profit and revenue targets in the fourth quarter. User growth weakened in the quarter, but picked up in the new year, Chief Executive Dick Costolo said in a statement.

Twitter added 13 million to 16 million users in each of the first three quarters of 2014 and was on track to hit a similar number in the current quarter, it said. That compares with a rise of about 4 million in the fourth quarter to 288 million monthly users as of Dec. 31.

Costolo said on a conference call that quarterly specific factors, including seasonality and the launch of Apple Inc's (AAPL.O: Quote) new mobile operating system, slowed additions in the fourth quarter.

Shares of Twitter, which initially slipped after the results were released on Thursday, rose in after-hours trade to $45.91 from their closing price of $41.26.

Twitter, which allows users to broadcast 140-character messages, is among the world's best known social media services, used by politicians, celebrities and activists. But the company has struggled to grow, raising questions about whether it can achieve the scale of Facebook, the world's No.1 social network with 1.39 billion users.

Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, recently surpassed Twitter's audience size and announced it had 300 million monthly users.

Twitter said revenue in the quarter ended Dec. 31 rose to $479 million from $243 million in the year-ago period. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had estimated $453.1 million.   Continued...

A portrait of the Twitter logo in Ventura, California December 21, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer