NEW YORK (AP) – Twitter is struggling to convert its headline omnipresence into cash, and its profit forecast sent investors scrambling before the opening bell Thursday.
The social media website says it expects between $75 million and $95 million in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a far cry from the $191 million Wall Street had been expecting, according to a survey of industry analysts by FactSet.
Company shares plunged 9 percent before the opening bell Thursday.
Twitter has become the megaphone at the White House, with Donald Trump sending broadsides and accolades, sometimes in rapid succession.
The response on Twitter has exploded, but that has not done anything to pump up profit numbers for the San Francisco company and growth, as it has been for years, is elusive.
Revenue growth has been stalled for more than two years.
And in a charged political and social environment, the company is balancing its position as a platform for free speech while curtailing hate speech and bullying.
This week, the company announced three additional measures to control rogue users, including identifying past abusers and banning them from using new Twitter handles.
Losses for Twitter Inc. swelled to $167 million in the fourth quarter, from $90.2 million in the previous year’s quarter, as revenue inched up 1 percent to $717.2 million.
The company topped analyst expectations with adjusted earnings per share of 16 cents in the fourth quarter, 4 cents better than expected, but that was overshadowed by its outlook.
Advertising revenue fell slightly to $638 million in the fourth quarter, and the company said tough competition and Twitter’s push to re-evaluate its product portfolio could affect future revenue growth.
The company didn’t offer a revenue forecast for the first quarter, but it said it expected advertising sales growth to continue to lag audience growth in 2017.
Shares of Twitter slumped $1.72 to $17 early Thursday. That stock price approached $25 last fall but has slumped since then.
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