Friday 28 October 2016

Nasdaq: We were to blame for Twitter results 'leak' that sparked crash in shares

Andy Trotman

Published 01/05/2015 | 08:35

Twitter logo
Twitter logo
Twitter share price

The Nasdaq stock market has admitted it accidentally released Twitter's results early on Tuesday night, sparking a slide in the shares that saw the social network lose more than a quarter of its value.

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Twitter's stock dropped a further 5pc on Wednesday following a 26pc fall on Tuesday, after the company was forced to reveal poor first-quarter results while the markets were still open.

The Nasdaq, which runs Twitter's investor relations page on its website, said a news and data firm obtained the results an hour ahead of their official release after, a company Nasdaq owns, incorrectly published them online.

"The posting was caused by an operational issue that exposed the release on Twitter's investor relations website for approximately 45 seconds," the Nasdaq said in a statement. "During those seconds the site was scraped by a third party that publically disseminated the earnings information."

On Tuesday night, Selerity used the social network to reveal that revenues of $436m in the first three months of the year missed analyst estimates of $456.5m. The number of users accessing Twitter on mobile devices every month also missed expectations, with a figure of 241.6m falling short of the predicted 243m.

As a result, Twitter’s shares fell by around 7pc, causing the company to halt trading and officially release the figures.

It confirmed Selerity’s tweets but added that it expected revenues to be between $470m and $485m in the second quarter, missing analyst projections of $538.1m by a big margin.

Full-year guidance was cut to between $2.17bn and $2.27bn, from the previous range of $2.3bn to $2.35bn.

Twitter shares slumped more than 26pc at one point on Tuesday

The shares slumped to $38.38 when they started trading again before closing down 18.18pc at $42.27, valuing the company at $27.6bn.

They fell 5.4pc to $39.98 on Wednesday.

The shares were placed under short sell restrictions, meaning short-sellers were banned from driving the stock down further to make a profit.

Twitter, led by chief executive Dick Costolo, said on Tuesday night the results were leaked and it was investigating the matter.

“We asked @nyse to halt trading once we discovered our Q1 earnings numbers had leaked, and published our results as soon as possible. We are investigating the source of the leak,” it tweeted.

Twitter did not return requests for further comment.

However, Selerity claimed it found the results on Twitter’s website: “Today’s $TWTR earnings release was sourced from Twitter’s Investor Relations website. No leak. No hack.”

This isn't the first time Selerity has released a technology company's results early. In 2011, the company obtained Microsoft's quarterly results early and published them online. The Windows maker was forced to officially announce the figures before markets had closed.


“The Microsoft earnings release was in a public area of their website, we confirmed that it was in the public portion of their website and it was a valid earnings release, and we put the information on our platforms,” said Ryan Terpstra, Selerity's founder and chief executive, at the time.


Twitter floated on the Nasdaq in November 2013, with its shares priced at $26 each, valuing the firm at $14.2bn. They ended their first day of trading up 72pc at $44.90.

However, it has struggled to attract the same user numbers as its biggest rival Facebook, putting pressure on Mr Costolo. Mark Zuckerberg's website sees 1.44bn monthtly active users, almost five times as many as Twitter's 302m.

Twitter investors are braced for a tough second quarter after the company warned on Tuesday night that monthly active users were off to a "slow start" in April.

Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo

Mr Costolo promised shareholders in November that Twitter would shake up its products to make them more appealing to consumers, and on Tuesday night admitted that the company needs to improve user retention.

"While we exceeded our EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization] target for the first quarter, revenue growth fell slightly short of our expectations due to lower-than-expected contribution from some of our newer direct response products," Mr Costolo said on Tuesday.

"It is still early days for these products, and we have a strong pipeline that we believe will drive increased value for direct response advertisers in the future.

"We remain confident in our strategy and in Twitter's long-term opportunity, and our focus remains on creating sustainable shareholder value by executing against our three priorities: strengthening the core, reducing barriers to consumption and delivering new apps and services."

Along with the results, Twitter revealed it had bought an online advertising company called TellApart, which is backed by Mr Costolo.

The Twitter boss invested in TellApart in 2010, a year after it was founded, as part of a $4.8m funding round.

TellApart will offer Twitter "additional tools for cross-device identity, targeting and attribution, along with a talented team with deep direct response expertise", it said.

Twitter also revealed a tie-up with Google's DoubleClick advert platform to "improve advertising performance measurement".

Last month Twitter launched Periscope, a live-streaming video service that it bought for a reported £67m in January.

In a conference call on Tuesday night, Mr Costolo said that Periscope had seen "tremendous early growth", with more than 1m signed up to the app in its first 10 days.

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