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Twitter's User Numbers Aren't Great. Its Business Numbers Are Pretty Good.

Twitter beats revenue estimates, on point with growth estimates.

Anthony Quintano for Re/code

Twitter came in below growth estimates Thursday, reporting 288 million monthly active users during Q4 earnings, a jump of 20 percent over the same period last year.

That means Twitter added only four million new users last quarter.

Analysts expected Twitter to be closer to 292 million users, which already represented a slight decline over Twitter’s 22 percent growth last quarter. Twitter has struggled with growing its user base in the past, and the MAU total is by far the company’s most important metric.

The growth numbers were coupled with better-than-expected revenue numbers from the company. Twitter reported profit of 12 cents per share on $479 million in revenue for the three months ending in December.

Analysts were looking for six cents per share on revenue of $453 million.

The earnings are a little more of the same from Twitter: It has trouble keeping up with Wall Street’s growth expectations, but does a pretty good job of making money off the users it does have.

CEO Dick Costolo will try to convince investors that Twitter can keep growing during the company’s call later this afternoon. Twitter will likely point to other metrics beyond its MAU total to demonstrate this, including its “logged out” audience of people who see tweets but don’t necessarily have an account.

Update: Costolo said that user growth this quarter (or lack thereof) was a one-time thing. Growth will return in Q1 to where Twitter saw it during the first three quarters of 2014, he said; the company added more than 14 million users per quarter on average during that stretch.

Costolo’s prediction is based on early growth so far in 2015. Twitter stock was up more than 10.5 percent following the earnings call.

This article originally appeared on

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