Twitter posted better-than-expected quarterly revenue and a surprise increase in monthly users, sending shares up almost 16% to a nine-month high as its campaign to clean up fake and abusive accounts continued to attract advertisers.
The site’s results caught the attention of US President Donald Trump, a prolific tweeter with nearly 60m followers, who called for the creation of “more, and fairer” social media companies, repeating his claim that Twitter is biased against Republicans, without presenting evidence.
Twitter’s monthly active users rose 9m to 330m in the first quarter from the previous quarter, much better than Wall Street’s average estimate that it would lose 2.2m users.
“Twitter is on a path to sustainable revenue growth and accelerated profit expansion, driven by improvements to the user experience and tools enabling direct response and search advertising,” said analyst Michael Pachter at Wedbush Securities.
It was Twitter’s last quarter of disclosing monthly active users. From now on it will only provide what it calls “monetiseable” daily active users, created to measure the number of people exposed to advertising on a daily basis, and exclude those who access Twitter via text messages or aggregating sites like TweetDeck.
For the first quarter, Twitter said daily active users rose to 134m, up 12% from a year earlier. Analysts were encouraged by signs Twitter had turned a corner in monthly user growth but said that the new way of measuring users could make comparisons between Twitter and rivals like Facebook more difficult.
“People are not impressed with a made up metric and their reluctance to give us actual users,” said Mr Pachter. “I don’t think the stock can get out of its own way until they come clean and report the same metrics everyone else does.”
The company also forecast revenue for the second quarter largely below analyst estimates, and said it would need to continue to spend heavily on cleaning up Twitter as well as new ad products.
Like Facebook, Twitter has been under pressure over privacy concerns and political influence activity. Twitter has worked to remove thousands of spam and suspicious accounts, which it blamed for sequential declines in monthly users.