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Why Jack Dorsey may not be able to fix Twitter: Analyst

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey returned to the role of CEO on a permanent basis this month after the company decided he was the man to turn around its anemic user growth. But Citigroup senior Internet analyst Mark May said Wednesday that may not be the case.

"I think that they have a plan. The problem is it might require a pretty meaningful change to the core experience for Twitter, and that may be something that a founder is unwilling to make," he told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

Shares of Twitter were hammered on Wednesday after the company beat both profit and revenue expectations in the last financial quarter, but reported it added just 3 million monthly active users during that period.

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The company's first major product since Dorsey took the helm — Moments — has been "a bit of a disappointment," May said. Incubated as Project Lightning, Moments launched this month with the aim of making it easier for new users to browse the biggest stories on Twitter.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter.
John Chiala | CNBC
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter.

May said Twitter is grappling with the reality that only so many people like the "fire hose approach" to consuming news and information. Conversely, Facebook is finding success with a "lean back approach" to interacting with friends and family and browsing a mix of news and celebrity gossip, he added.

"That's a model that works well. We'll see if Twitter can glom onto that, as well," he said.

Citigroup maintained its neutral rating on shares of Twitter following the earnings report on Tuesday.

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Not everyone is down on Dorsey. Scott Devitt, senior research analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, on Tuesday upgraded the stock to buy and placed a $34 price target on the shares, saying the appointment of Dorsey was the first step toward an "improved product and repaired franchise."

Twitter's stock price is approaching a record low just as it is beginning to change the "underlying architecture of the business and product portfolio" and shakes up its leadership, not just with Dorsey, but former Google executive Omid Kordestani, who has been named chairman, Devitt told CNBC on Wednesday.

"With the stock price depressed in the way that it is, suggesting that expectations for change are very low, we thought it was an interesting entry point," he said during a "Fast Money: Halftime Report" interview.

Devitt said it's shortsighted to expect any change to have occurred in the brief period between Dorsey's appointment and the earnings report.

Moving forward, Twitter faces declining expectations and easier comparisons to prior quarters, Devitt wrote in a research note.

DISCLOSURE: Neither the analysts nor their families own shares of Twitter. Citigroup owns greater than a 1 percent share of Twitter's stock. Stifel Nicolaus provides investment banking services to Twitter and makes a market in its securities.