Twitter is ‘toast’ and the stock is not even worth $10: Analyst

Twitter is ‘toast’ and the stock is not even worth $10: Analyst
Arjun Kharpal 19 Hours Ago CNBC.com

Twitter is "toast" as a company and the stock is not even worth $10, according to a research note published Tuesday, following the departure of another top executive at the social media service.

The microblogging platform's chief technology officer, Adam Messinger, tweeted that he would leave the company and "take some time off", while Josh McFarland, vice president of product at Twitter, also said he was exiting the company. Both executives announced their departure on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, last month, Adam Bain stepped down as chief operating officer last month to be replaced by chief financial officer Anthony Noto, who has yet to be replaced. Twitter has also lost leaders from business development, media and commerce, media partnerships, human resources, and engineering this year.

The departures prompted Trip Chowdhry, the managing director of equity research at Global Equities Research, and a noted "uber-bear" on tech stocks, to issue a note on Tuesday claiming Twitter is "toast" and "not even a $10 stock".

 Twitter CTO Adam Messinger leaving firm  Twitter CTO Adam Messinger leaving firm 
Tuesday, 20 Dec 2016 | 4:56 PM ET | 01:29
"Many investors were foolishly building (an) investment thesis based on complete stupidity," Chowdhry wrote.

Twitter's share price closed at $17.92 on Tuesday. A $10 price tag would represent a more than 44 percent decline in the U.S. technology company's shares on Tuesday's closing price. It's not the first time that Chowdhry has said that Twitter could fall to $10. In October, the analyst said that next year, the fall is likely to take place.

The analyst said that Twitter's data quality is "horrible". Chowdhry said that many pollsters used Twitter data to predict a Hillary Clinton win in the U.S. election but the fact that Donald Trump won shows that data quality is poor. One reason for this is too many fake users on the platform, Chowdhry claims.

"If data quality is bad, ad targeting is bad, and if ad targeting is bad, advertisers are not happy, and hence monetization will remain challenging for Twitter," Chowdhry said.

Live video potential

Chowdhry's call is a particularly bearish voice amid a chorus of cautious investors. Twitter's stock currently has 25 hold ratings, six sells and two strong sells, according to Reuters data. Only six analysts have a buy or strong buy rating, while the average price target for the stock is $17.02.

The social media service has struggled to grow its users but its latest quarterly results could give investors some hope. Twitter's average monthly active users for the third quarter increased to 317 million, up 4 million from its second quarter, while earnings beat market expectations. The U.S. social media giant also announced plans to lay off about 350 people, or 9 percent of its global workforce.

Twitter was courted by a number of potential acquirers earlier this year, including Salesforce, but talks ended without a deal. While some still think Twitter should be acquired, the company has to go it alone and try to boost users.

One focus has been on live video. Twitter live-streams Thursday night NFL games, and on Tuesday announced plans to live-stream the Golden Globes pre-show.

Analysts see this as a potential driver of growth if it takes off. Trefis, a platform that uses data to look at how stocks are valued and where they could move, predicts the number of timeline views per U.S. monthly active user for Twitter will increase gradually from around 200,000 in 2016 to 209,000 by the end of 2019. Live video could boost that number and if the number of timeline reaches nearly 300,000 by the end of 2019, Twitter's stock could see 20 percent upside to Trefis' current price estimate of $22.28.

Still the company faces stiff competition from the likes of Facebook and Snapchat, both of which focus heavily on video.

Neil Doshi, an analyst at Mizuho Securities, wrote in a note last month that other social media rivals would continue to take ad revenue and user share from Twitter, while he continued to "remain concerned" about the business due to continued management departures.


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