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Twitter shares surge after earnings report shows growth in daily users

Key Points
  • Twitter reported earnings that beat analyst estimates on the top and bottom lines.
  • Twitter reported strong user and advertising revenue growth for the quarter.
  • Its the first quarterly report with a new measurement of engagement — monetizable daily active users (mDAUs).
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Twitter reports 139 million monetizable daily users, beating estimates

Twitter posted earnings that beat analyst estimates on the top and bottom lines Friday, helping to boost share prices by 8.9%. The rally added more than $2.6 billion to Twitter's market cap, bringing it to $31.9 billion.

Here are the key numbers Twitter reported for its second quarter of 2019:

  • Earnings per share: 20 cents, adjusted, vs. 19 cents per share expected, per Refinitiv survey of analysts
  • Revenue: $841 million, vs. $829.1 million expected, per Refinitiv
  • Average monetizable daily active users (mDAUs): 139 million

Revenue was up 18% year over year, the company said, due to domestic growth. Twitter said it reached an average of 139 million monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) in the second quarter, a 14% increase year over year. Average domestic mDAUs came to 29 million in the quarter, a 10% increase compared with a year earlier. Internationally, average mDAUs were 110 million in the quarter, up 15% from the previous year.

On a call with analysts, CFO Ned Segal said Twitter has been "remarkably consistent" with bringing in users at the top of the funnel who visit the site for a specific purpose. It's focused on converting those people into mDAUs by helping them "find what they're looking for faster," he said.

Twitter provided guidance for the third quarter, saying it expects revenue to range from $815 million to $875 million. It expects operating income to range between $45 million and $80 million. For the full fiscal year, Twitter reiterated that it expects operating expenses to go up about 20% on a year-over-year basis as it invests in top priorities like health and conversation.

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Monetizable daily user growth is important metric for Twitter: Analyst

The previous quarter was the last for which Twitter said it would report monthly active users (MAUs) as it shifts to a new metric the company said would better reflect its audience. The new figure, monetizable daily active users (mDAUs), includes "Twitter users who log in and access Twitter on any given day through Twitter.com or our Twitter applications that are able to show ads," according to the company.

Twitter said mDAUs are not comparable to disclosures from other social media companies, which it says typically share "a more expansive metric that includes people who are not seeing ads." Twitter's reported mDAU figure is significantly smaller than the DAU metrics its peers like Snap and Facebook report. Twitter reported 134 million average mDAUs for the first quarter. Snap reported 203 million DAUs in its latest earnings report and Facebook reported 1.59 billion DAUs.

Twitter's decision to stop disclosing MAUs came after the company missed analyst estimates on the metric for two straight quarters. Twitter blamed the decline on tweaks it made "to prioritize the health of the platform" as well as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation and a purge of "locked" accounts meant to get rid of bots, among other factors.

Twitter said its total advertising revenue reached $727 million in the quarter, up 21%, or 23% on a constant currency basis. Its ad revenue growth in the U.S. grew 29% compared with 26% the previous quarter, Twitter reported.

"We feel like our messages of launching new products and services and connecting what's happening continues to really resonate with advertisers," Segal told analysts on the earnings call.

The company has been experimenting with how to emphasize conversations rather than engagement metrics such as likes and retweets to upgrade user experience. The company created a prototype app called "twttr" to test new ideas. Last quarter, CEO Jack Dorsey said the results so far were promising, but he did not provide a timeline for when to expect a broader release of its features. Twitter began to role out a redesign of its website earlier this month.

On the company's earnings call, CEO Jack Dorsey said Twitter has made lists more prominent on the timeline and hopes the accessibility will help them serve as a type of "starter pack" for new users looking for relevant people to follow. For Twitter's most devoted users, "lists are instrumental in their experience," Dorsey said. Although he didn't directly address issues of abuse in the list function, Dorsey mentioned giving users more control over their lists.

"We want to think of lists more broadly as timelines, as streams of tweets," Dorsey said. "As we learn from it, we'll figure out if there's revenue products that better the experience as well."

In its letter to shareholders, Twitter said it has made its policies easier to read and implemented new features in its design to make it a better experience, like testing labeled replies that indicate the original author of a tweet. The company said it saw an 18% drop in "reports of spammy or suspicious content across all Tweet detail pages, which show the replies to any given Tweet on our service." Twitter credited the reduction to its updated machine learning models.

As of Thursday's close, Twitter's stock had risen more than 32% this year.

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