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Twitter warns user growth to slow, beats sales and profit targets

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Elizabeth Culliford and Munsif Vengattil
·2 min read
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By Elizabeth Culliford and Munsif Vengattil

Feb 9 (Reuters) - Twitter Inc on Tuesday posted 27%user growth, missing Wall Street estimates, and warned this ratewould slow in the upcoming quarters as a boost from the pandemicfizzles.

The social media company, which beat quarterly sales andprofit estimates, said expenses would rise 25% or more in 2021but projected that total revenue would grow faster than costs.

In the fourth quarter, Twitter said it had 192 millionaverage monetizable daily active users (mDAU) - its term for thenumber of daily users who can view ads. Analysts were expecting196.5 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Twitter said user growth was driven by product improvementsand more global conversation from events like the COVID-19pandemic and the U.S. election. Some temporary changes to reducemisinformation around the U.S. election had a small negativeimpact on global user growth, it said.

The social media company has been in the spotlight amidglobal debates over what is allowed on the site - from its banon former U.S. President Donald Trump to its recent refusal tocomply with an Indian government directive to block accountslinked to the farmers' protest.

In a letter to shareholders, Twitter said the significantpandemic-related surge in users last year created challenges forfuture gains.

Twitter's advertising business benefitted from new adformats and improved targeting, Chief Financial Officer NedSegal said in the earnings release.

Total revenue came in at a record $1.29 billion, an increaseof 28% year over year. Ad revenue was $1.15 billion, up 31% fromthe same period a year ago.

Analysts on average were expecting revenue of $1.19 billion,with ad sales totalling $1.05 billion.

Twitter acquired newsletter startup Revue last month. Italso recently launched disappearing tweets called "fleets" as alow-pressure way for users to post on the site and said it hadin late Q4 released a beta test of "Spaces," its audio-chat roomfeature which has similarities with voice-based app Clubhouse.

Net income rose to $222.1 million, or 27 cents per shares,from $118.8 million, or 15 cents per share a year earlier.Excluding items, Twitter earned 38 cents per share, beatingestimates of 31 cents.

Twitter's costs and expenses were $1.04 billion for thequarter, an increase of 21% year over year. It said it expectedcosts and expenses to rise partly due to plans to grow headcountby more than 20% particularly in engineering, product, designand research.

Twitter said it expected total revenue in the currentquarter to be between $940 million and $1.04 billion, comparedto estimates of $965.14 million.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York and MunsifVengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)