Can the world's most popular microblog turn its popularity into profitability? This week, investors will get their best chance yet to find out.
For the first time as a public company, Twitter Inc. will unveil its fiscal fourth-quarter results on Wednesday. Analysts expect the company to post a loss of about 2 cents (U.S.) a share on revenue of $217.78-million, according to Thomson Reuters.
Non-existent profit isn't entirely unexpected for a relatively young technology company that's still in high-growth mode, but Twitter's stock price – which has jumped more than 43 per cent since its November IPO (excluding the first-day spike) – shows investors expect that growth to continue at a rapid pace.
Key metrics to watch on Wednesday will be the company's active user base growth, as well as its ability to monetize that growth through its still-new advertising products.
Twitter saw its stock price jump sharply last week, after Facebook Inc. announced better-than-expected quarterly results. The social network's fortunes are often seen as predictive of how Twitter will perform, in large part because the two companies anchor the booming social media industries.
A major contributor to Facebook's positive quarter was mobile engagement, as the company starts to capitalize on the growing number of consumers who use their phone or tablet as their primary computer. Since Twitter's mobile user base, as a percentage of the total, is higher than Facebook's, some investors and analysts are convinced the company is in an even better position to capitalize on the mobile trend.
But that doesn't mean there aren't any concerns for the microblogging company. Observers will be watching closely for any signs of market saturation in Twitter's user base – while Twitter is hugely popular in the U.S. and other countries, there are some parts of the world where either the company is unable to defeat local microblogs (China), or where the user base is already so high that it is unlikely the company can continue posting meteoric user growth rates (Turkey).
Investors will also be looking for more clarity on Twitter's ongoing attempts to integrate the service will all manner of popular media.
That strategy has already seen the company hire a number of brand ambassadors to connect with myriad celebrities who use the Twitter.
In addition, the company has pushed ahead aggressively with plans to make Twitter a part of several prime-time TV shows – where, for example, the show displays a hashtag on screen that allows viewers to discuss the issue online almost in real-time. With its very first earnings report, Twitter will give its new investors the most in-depth look yet at how these strategies are translating (or failing to translate) into profit.