News / Economy

Twitter Rides Mobile Wave in Shifting Internet Landscape

A man uses a mobile phone as he walks past the New York Stock Exchange ahead of Twitter IPO on November 7, 2013, in New York.
A man uses a mobile phone as he walks past the New York Stock Exchange ahead of Twitter IPO on November 7, 2013, in New York.
Reuters
Twitter Inc., whose stock has surged 150 percent since it went public in November, has a lot to live up to when it reports quarterly earnings for the first time on Wednesday.
 
A growing number of naysayers warn that Twitter's stock is greatly overpriced, and that even mediocre inaugural results could deflate its soaring valuation, now several times that of its closest social media peer, Facebook Inc.
 
But a clutch of earnings from the giants of the Internet sector last week suggest the company's mobile advertising business model is rooted in solid - and fertile - ground.
 
Facebook last week posted its strongest quarterly revenue growth in two years, even though 53 percent of its advertising revenue came from mobile users, once its Achilles heel. Facebook shares shot up 14 percent the day after the news.
 
That's a stark turnaround from 2013, when a shift in consumer behavior from PCs to mobile devices threatened to upend established advertising businesses, and forced powerhouse companies like Facebook to adapt to the changing times.
 
Facebook responded by aggressively shifting its emphasis from displaying banner ads to injecting paid marketing messages straight into the stream of updates shown to every user called the newsfeed - a model originally refined by Twitter and one ideally suited for viewing on small smartphone screens.
 
“Mobile continues to drive our growth,” David Ebersman, Facebook's chief financial officer, told analysts last Wednesday. “The key driver of ad revenue growth continued to be the strong performance of newsfeed ads on mobile and desktop.”
 
Facebook's successful transition to mobile bodes well for Twitter, which similarly places ads called “promoted tweets” into users' timelines. But it highlights a tough road ahead for companies that rely on selling ads on the periphery of websites.
 
Last week, Google Inc and Yahoo Inc  reported declines in ad prices during the fourth quarter, as marketers hesitated to pay for display ads at a time they are increasingly viewed on cramped smartphone screens rather than PC displays.
 
Google offset those declines by boosting the overall volume of its ads thanks to its massive reach. Yahoo appeared to face a greater challenge as it grapples with how to revamp its products for mobile audiences, analysts say.
 
Yahoo's stock has slid 8 percent in the week since its earnings call.
 
“Any company that has not been successful transitioning to mobile has just not been successful in this next leg of Internet growth,” said Ryan Jacob, chief executive of the Jacob Funds, which owns shares of Google, Yahoo and Facebook.
 
Setting expectations
 
Even if Twitter's business model appears firmly grounded, questions remain over whether future expectations are outpacing its present-day financial performance.
 
Twitter closed 1 percent higher at $65 a share on Monday. At that price, the stock is at 32 times expected 2014 sales, compared to 14 times for Facebook and 12 times for LinkedIn Corp , according to Thomson Reuters data.
 
Currently, seven analysts recommend or strongly recommend buying the stock, 13 rate it as “hold”, and 11 have it as “underperform” or “sell.” That's up from seven sell-equivalents a month ago, and five just two months ago, right after its market debut.
 
Although some tech companies, including Facebook and Google, do not offer financial outlooks, several analysts said they hoped Twitter's management would comment on the company's near-term potential, given the stock has divided investor opinion.
 
“It'd be important to provide any kind of guidance, any kind of framework to bring everyone in line,” said Neil Doshi, an analyst with CRT Capital “If they don't, we'll see greater volatility in the stock.”
 
Wall Street expects the company to announce $218 million in revenue for the fourth quarter.
 
Robert Peck, an analyst with Suntrust Robinson who was among the first Street prognosticators to slap a “buy” on Twitter before downgrading to neutral in December, said the metric to watch will be its user numbers.
 
Twitter had 232 million monthly users at the end of September, but its current valuation is predicated on the belief it could expand its appeal and eventually grow to a scale close to Facebook's, which has five times more users, he said.
 
“The question is: 'What gets my mom to sign up for your service?”' Peck said.
 
Twitter also lags in its ability to wring revenue out of every member. It is expected to chalk up revenue of $639.42 mln in 2013, or about $3 per user. Facebook's gets about $6 per user.
 
Analysts will also be looking to hear if Twitter has made progress in introducing a commerce platform, which would allow it to take a cut of any transactions it facilitates.
 
The company has openly alluded to its e-commerce ambitions. It hired former Ticketmaster president Nathan Hubbard as commerce chief, and in December it introduced a multimedia tweet format specifically designed to showcase a product.
 
“They have a number of potential options for monetization,” said Doshi. “From management's perspective it boils down to, 'What are the most important things?' and to execute against that.”

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9205
JPY
USD
123.69
GBP
USD
0.6508
CAD
USD
1.2456
INR
USD
64.051

Rates may not be current.