On The Fly: What to watch in Twitter earnings report
Twitter (TWTR) is scheduled to reports results of its second fiscal quarter after the market close on July 26, with a conference call scheduled for 5:00 ET. What to watch for: 1. USER NUMBERS: Twitter's monthly active users, or MAUs, are a closely watched proxy of its growth and popularity. Once grouped alongside up-and-coming social network Facebook (FB), Twitter has consistently failed to match the former's robust user growth, leading some analysts and investors to declare it a "niche" product relative to Facebook's clear mainstream appeal. Last quarter, Twitter grew MAUs by 2% sequentially to 310M while U.S. numbers stayed flat at 65M, suggesting potentially middling or slowing growth. Watch for those metrics as well as commentary on user engagement. 2. ADVERTISING GAINS: Beyond capturing and retaining users, the second pillar of Twitter is its ability to drive advertisers to its platform. Last quarter, the company said revenue came in below forecasts because marketers did not increase spend "as quickly as expected." Watch for remarks on those trends and their impact on the top line. 3. NEW PRODUCTS, FEATURES: Responding to the Q1 revenue miss, Twitter highlighted its "product roadmap" designed to lure advertising dollars amid ongoing shifts towards Facebook and Google (GOOG). The second quarter saw the company launch the advertiser and creator-focused apps "Twitter Engage" and "Twitter Dashboard," as well as "Twitter Insiders" to help brands conduct research and "Promoted Tweet Carousel" to create richer ads. More generally, the microblog platform reached deals to stream sports programming as well as Bloomberg Television, enabled 140-second videos on Twitter and Vine, unveiled photo stickers, bought artificial intelligence startup Magic Pony, invested nearly $100M in music service SoundCloud, launched an ad partnership with China's LeEco, and poached an Apple (AAPL) designer to lead a newly-formed augmented and virtual reality team. Though Twitter is unlikely to offer details on all initiatives, watch for commentary on the performance of its latest ad products. 4. JACK DORSEY: Twitter is led by Chief Executive and co-founder Jack Dorsey, who returned to the company last October after an extended CEO search. Dorsey also heads payments company Square (SQ), intermittently spurring questions of whether the workload has become unwieldy amid the two companies' less-than-ideal performance. Wall Street analysts have bluntly questioned that workload during previous earnings conference calls; watch for any renewed interest in the topic, particularly if Twitter's results underdeliver. Note that in early June, Vanity Fair writer Nick Bilton reported asking Twitter executives about "Plan B" if Dorsey couldn't turn the company around, to which they allegedly replied: "There is no Plan B. This is it."