Twitter earnings strong, user growth disappoints

Twitter stock soared in Thursday after-hours trading as the company confirmed that it had reached a deal with Google, and reported quarterly earnings and revenue that beat analysts' expectations.

The social media company posted fourth-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 12 cents, compared with 2 cents per share a year earlier. Revenue nearly doubled to $479 million from $243 million.

The stock fell in after-hours trading right after the earnings announcement, but rebounded to a more than 10 percent gain.

Read MoreCan Twitter prove the skeptics wrong?

Analysts had expected Twitter to report adjusted earnings of about 6 cents per share on $453 million in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

"We closed out the year with our business advancing at a great pace. Revenue growth accelerated again for the full year, and we had record quarterly profits on an adjusted EBITDA basis," Dick Costolo, Twitter's CEO, said in the company's earnings release.

"In addition, the trend thus far in Q1 leads us to believe that the absolute number of net users added in Q1 will be similar to what we saw during the first three quarters of 2014," he said.

The company said it saw 288 million monthly active users (MAUs) for the fourth quarter, which represented a 20 percent year-over-year increase, but only 4 million net adds since the prior quarter. Wall Street had expected 292 million MAUs for the fourth-quarter.

On the company's earnings call, Costolo blamed quarter-specific issues for the weaker than expected number, pointing to seasonality and Apple's iOS 8 release.

Twitter CFO Anthony Noto elaborated on this, saying the mobile operating system roll out cost the company about 4 million MAUs, by impacting both third-party polling MAUs and Twitter owned-and-operated MAUs.

Both Noto and Costolo emphasized that they expect Q1 MAUs returning to the level of absolute net adds seen in the first three quarters of 2014.

Twitter
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Timeline views on Twitter touched 182 billion for the quarter, a year-over-year increase of 23 percent, the company said. Noto said the company would stop providing this metric because it is developing product changes that will directly hurt that number—such as a function that shows users what they missed while they were away from the platform.

Advertising revenue came in at $432 million, a 97 percent rise.

In its forward-looking guidance, Twitter said its 2015 first-quarter revenue is projected to range from $440 million to $450 million. Analysts had expected $449.7 million, according to Reuters.

Noto said this guidance was $6.5 million lower due to currency changes from Q4 2014 to Jan. 31, 2015.

"One of the biggest problems Twitter has is it's already so big and because Twitter is its own ecosystem that's very different than the way the public communicates, I don't think they can grow that much bigger," Ross Gerber of Gerber Kawasaki said on CNBC's "Closing Bell."

"They've got 300 million people. Facebook has a billion people. How many people are there in the world?" he added.

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

The social media company's stock has struggled over the past year, falling more than 37 percent in that time.

Read MoreTwitter, Google in deal to make tweets searchable

Costolo has taken some heat for his management over the past several months, with some analysts predicting that his tenure may soon be up at the company.

Still, Twitter has attempted to innovate on several fronts, including a reported deal with Google that would help tweets show up in the search engine. Costolo confirmed the Google deal on the call.

"I do want to confirm that we have a relationship that we've agreed to with Google—I don't have any more details to share about it at this time," he said.

He later added that the new Google deal will present the opportunity to drive attention to curated logged-out Twitter experiences, as opposed to the previous relationship with the search engine.

"That's one of the reasons this makes a lot more sense for us now," Costolo explained. He added that the partnership will not be launched or rolled out for several months.

Twitter launched a video tool in January, which could potentially pave the way for video ads and group chats. It also revealed recently that it will be pushing its "promoted tweet" ads to syndicated feeds on other platforms like Flipboard.

Costolo praised the company's "pace of execution" on the earnings call.

"There's a lot of great things to come" David Hirsch, Metamorphic Ventures managing partner, told CNBC. "They have a huge opportunity to extend into a really powerful media company."

The CEO revealed there is "a lot more coming on the mobile video front" and that he is personally involved in the matter. He also discussed on the call that the company is working on a logged-out homepage that will decrease barriers-to-entry for those without accounts.

Vine, which is owned by Twitter, now sees more than 1.5 billion vine loops per day, Costolo said.

He also highlighted Fabric—Twitter's mobile development platform—which he said could play an important role in the mobile ecosystem going forward.

The options market indicated traders were anticipating big moves one way or the other on the company's stock following earnings, RiskReversal.com's Dan Nathan said on CNBC's "Fast Money."

—Reuters contributed to this report.