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Can Twitter (TWTR) Pull a Surprise this Earnings Season?

Twitter, Inc. TWTR is set to report first-quarter 2016 results on Apr 26. The company had reported a positive earnings surprise of 46.15% in the last quarter. It also delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 27.94% over the four trailing quarters.  Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Factors to Consider

Investors will again be focused on user growth when Twitter reports its first-quarter 2016 results. Investors have remained wary as the micro blogging site tries hard to reverse the decline in its user base. At 320 million users, it has fallen way behind other social media services like Facebook FB, which boasts a 1.59 billion strong user base.

Slowing engagement is a key concern for the company as advertisements are its primary source of revenues. In order to attract more users while fully monetizing the existing ones, the company has been implementing a lot of changes. A new way to display tweets was introduced, live video streaming app Periscope was integrated in its feed and the star icon that stood for favorites was replaced by a bright red heart shaped button for likes.

Moreover, Twitter would now make tweets available on Google search to woo the 500 million users who do not log in but keep a track of tweets. Last December, the company launched ads for logged out users. Earlier, its news curation tool, Moments, was a step in the same direction. It recently won the rights to stream NFL, outbidding the likes of Facebook and Amazon AMZN.

However, many changes have in fact disappointed ardent Twitter users. Plus, investors had cheered the appointment of co-founder Jack Dorsey as CEO for the second time with hopes that he will pull it all together for Twitter. Despite Dorsey being at the helm for almost 6 months, there hasn’t been much change in Twitter’s fortunes.

Dubbed as the next Facebook at its IPO in Nov 2013, Twitter shares have lost over 40% of their value in the past six months and nearly 25% year-to-date and are trading lower than its IPO price of $19.

Amid all this, high profile executive departures are adding to its woes. The company reportedly has now resorted to giving away additional restricted stock and cash bonus to retain staff because it is difficult to have a completely new set of people running the show when just about everything from products to customers to strategy is being overhauled.

Twitter is already treading on thin ice. At the fourth-quarter 2015 earnings conference, Dorsey said that “we've already seen January monthly actives bounce back to Q3 levels. We're confident that, with disciplined execution, this growth trend will continue over time.” It will be good to see some revival in user growth because user growth can diminish the flailing interest in the stock.

Also, Twitter’s ability to attract advertising revenues amid significant competition from the likes of Facebook and Google will be a key factor determining its growth, considering the fact that investment in product development needs to continue. Investors are also concerned as the 10-year old company is yet to make profit.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Twitter is likely to beat earnings this quarter. This is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1, 2 or 3 for this to happen. That is not the case here as you will see below.

Zacks ESP: Twitter has an Earnings ESP of 0.00%. This is because both the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate stand at a loss of 13 cents.

Zacks Rank: Twitter has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), which when combined with a 0.00% ESP, makes surprise prediction difficult.

Please note that we caution against stocks with Zacks Rank #4 and 5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions momentum.

Stock to Consider

Here's a stock worth considering that, as per our model, has the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

Silicon Motion Technology Corp SIMO, with an Earnings ESP of +7.27% and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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AMAZON.COM INC (AMZN): Free Stock Analysis Report
SILICON MOTION (SIMO): Free Stock Analysis Report
FACEBOOK INC-A (FB): Free Stock Analysis Report
TWITTER INC (TWTR): Free Stock Analysis Report
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