SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter's shares jumped in early trading Thursday after it posted strong revenue growth last year and announced a $4 billion share buyback program. That's despite losing money in 2021 and falling short of Wall Street expectations for user growth in the last three months of the year.
Revenue increased 37%, to $5.08 billion, compared with 2020. But the San Francisco company reported a net loss of $221 million for the year largely tied to the settlement of a shareholder lawsuit.
In the October-to-December quarter, Twitter earned $182 million, or 21 cents per share. Adjusted for one-time gains and costs, per-share earnings were 33 cents, hitting Wall Street expectations. Revenue grew in the fourth quarter to $1.41 billion, up 22% from the same period a year ago.
Twitter had an average of 217 million daily active users in the fourth quarter, up from 192 million a year earlier. The number increased by 6 million from the third quarter, but industry analysts had expected it to add 8 million users, according to the data provider FactSet.
The company authorized a new $4 billion share repurchase program that replaces a previous $2 billion program from 2020.
Twitter shares rose about 2% in premarket trading. One big worry for investors has been Apple’s iOS privacy changes, which make it tougher for companies to track people for advertising purposes. That was part of the reason for Facebook parent Meta's stock plunge last week.
“Although retooling our revenue products in light of Apple’s privacy-related iOS changes took additional time, energy, and resources in 2020 and 2021, we believe that our product improvements have helped reduce the impact on Twitter," the company said in a shareholder note.
The loss Twitter reported last year is tied to a one-time net charge of $766 million from a lawsuit settlement. It said it would pay $809.5 million to settle allegations that the company misled investors about how much its user base was growing and how much users interacted with its platform.
Thursday’s earnings report is the first from new CEO Parag Agrawal, who took over after co-founder Jack Dorsey resigned in late November.
Agrawal had served as Twitter’s chief technology officer since 2017, and Wall Street generally welcomed his promotion. But he faces a steep learning curve, having to step out from his largely technical background and confront social and political issues, including misinformation, abuse and effects on mental health.