Twitter reported its largest quarterly increase in users since early 2015 but an 8% drop in revenue suggests it is still struggling to monetize its audience.
The addition of nine million new monthly active users in the first quarter was a positive sign for Twitter, which had posted several quarters of disappointing results. The company also reported revenue and earnings per share that beat estimates.
Revenue totaled $548 million, compared to the expected $511.9 million, while EPS of 11 cents a share easily topped the 1 cent estimate. Monthly active users totaled 328 million, 7 million more than expected, and daily usage accelerated for the fourth consecutive quarter.
On news of the earnings, Twitter shares rose as much as 10% on Wednesday before closing at $15.82, up 7.9%.
But first-quarter sales fell from $595 million in the year-ago period, with advertising revenue declining 11% to $474 million. “While we’ve made progress toward building a better, more cohesive user experience that is driving accelerating audience growth, there is still work to be done to translate that into revenue growth,” Twitter acknowledged in a letter to shareholders.
The company said it had received positive feedback from advertisers regarding the “significant” improvements on return on investment “we’ve achieved as audience growth continued to accelerate.” CFO Anthony Noto cited 32 ad deals that Twitter has made in recent weeks.
“Executing on our plan and growing our audience in result in positive revenue growth over the long term,” Twitter said.
But CNBC said the earnings report shows Twitter is “becoming irrelevant in online advertising, compared to its two largest rivals — Google and Facebook.”
Google parent Alphabet is expected to report a 20% increase in first-quarter ad sales while Facebook is expected to post a 45% gain. “Of the roughly $32 billion in sales that the three rivals are expected to have posted for the quarter, Twitter’s share of it was less than 2 percent, and falling,” CNBC noted.
Twitter’s outlook for the second quarter was worse than expected, projecting adjusted EBITDA of $95 million to $115 million, while analysts forecast a consensus of $141 million.