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Twitter Stock Tanks on Revenue Miss, Weak Guidance

Twitter earnings were leaked, causing the stock to tank.

Anthony Correia / Shutterstock

Wall Street briefly halted trading for Twitter stock Tuesday afternoon after the company’s Q1 earnings were leaked early.

Twitter missed analyst’s revenue projections, and the market reacted as Twitter stock quickly dipped almost 6 percent before trading was halted. Trading then resumed, and the stock finished the day down more than 18 percent.

Twitter reported $436 million in revenue for the quarter; analysts projected $457 million. Twitter did beat EPS estimates, reporting profits of 7 cents per share. Analyst estimates were 4 cents per share.

The stock also dipped due to lower-than-expected guidance from Twitter on both Q2 and full-year revenue projections. The company is projecting $470 million to $485 million in revenue next quarter and $2.17 billion to $2.27 billion on the year; analysts were looking for roughly $538 million and $2.37 billion respectively.

It was a revenue miss for Twitter, and this is how CFO Anthony Noto explained it on the earnings call: the company used to charge advertisers for any kind of ad engagement, including favorites and retweets. Over the past two quarters, Twitter has transitioned to a new pricing model, only charging advertisers for clicks that they want — like an app install or a website visit.

Because of that, Twitter is charging advertisers for fewer clicks and bringing in less money. The hope long term is that advertisers will find these ads to be more valuable (they’re no longer paying for “engagement” metrics) and spend more money with the company. That obviously hasn’t happened as quickly as Twitter had hoped.

The earnings leak was first reported by Selerity, a data science company in the business of finding and reporting company earnings early. Selerity works to automatically identify the URL of a company’s earnings statement before that URL is shared publicly — essentially pulling back the veil on earnings information before the company is ready to do so.

It’s why Selerity tweeted that the data simply came from the company’s investor relations page. It was probably on the site, but the page hadn’t been publicly shared. Companies have done this in the past, and stock traders and financial journalists will sometimes try to get the information ahead of everyone else.

What actually happened in this case was that, a Nasdaq-owned web service that hosts Twitter’s investor relations page, posted the earnings at 12:07 p.m. PT, almost an hour early.

“ made publicly accessible an early version of Twitter’s earnings release,” Joe Christinat, a Nasdaq spokesperson told Re/code. “It didn’t impact other clients and we’re investigating the root cause.”

So the leak wasn’t Twitter’s fault.

One silver lining for Twitter was that user growth came in as expected. The company reported 302 million active users, up 14 million over last quarter and aligning with analyst estimates. That’s 18 percent year-over-year growth.

Last quarter, Twitter added just four million new users, the lowest quarter-over-quarter jump since going public in late 2013. CEO Dick Costolo responded to the less-than-stellar growth by telling analysts the company would rebound in Q1 to the level Twitter grew throughout most of 2014, which was roughly 14 million new users per quarter.

Twitter met that projection.

The company also announced that it has acquired TellApart, a marketing company that specializes in cross-device targeting. That means tracking you from your phone to your tablet to your desktop to show you better targeted ads.

A company spokesperson declined to share deal terms.

Twitter also announced a partnership with Google’s DoubleClick to help its advertisers better measure the performance of their ads. For example, did showing you that ad actually lead to a purchase? It’s the second significant partnership between Twitter and Google in the past three months.

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