Twitter takes hit as user growth disappoints

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The San Francisco-based firm said advertising brought in USD 220 million in the quarter. Reuters The San Francisco-based firm said advertising brought in USD 220 million in the quarter. Reuters
SummaryTwitter got a reality check as the high-flying messaging company reported modest user growth during a quarter

Twitter got a reality check as the high-flying messaging company reported modest user growth during a quarter in which it lost USD 511 million.

Even more disconcerting, in the eyes of some analysts, was that the typical amount of time people spent checking out timelines at Twitter actually dropped.

"If you don't have an engaged user base, you don't have a business," Forrester analyst Nate Elliott told AFP.

"They have got to do better on users, that is the entire story."

Twitter makes money from ads in the form of "promoted tweets" in timelines, and it need strong growth to keep its momentum.

Twitter shares skidded more than 11 percent to USD 58.50 yesterday in after-market trades that followed its first quarterly earnings release since its stock market debut last year.

The results showed revenues in the quarter that ended December 31 doubled from a year ago to a better-than-expected USD 242.6 million.

But, investors seemed unhappy that the average number of monthly users had climbed just 30 percent to 241 million when compared to the same quarter a year earlier.

The number of worldwide users was up just nine million from the figure of 232 million when Twitter went public last November, suggesting only modest growth at a time when investors were looking for a surge.

In its first earnings report as a public company, Twitter said the loss for the year widened to USD 645 million from USD 79 million in 2012 even as revenues more than doubled to USD 664 million for the full year.

The San Francisco-based firm said advertising brought in USD 220 million in the quarter, an increase of 121 percent year-over-year, with mobile accounting for more than 75 percent of total.

Data licensing and other revenue totaled USD 23 million. International revenue jumped 200 percent to USD 66 million, an increase of 200 percent to make up 27 percent of all revenues.

Shares in Twitter soared from the offering price last November of USD 26, and analysts say that to sustain that momentum Twitter must prove it can grow and move toward profitability.

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