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Twitter warns user growth to slow, beats Q4 targets

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Twitter warns user growth to slow, beats Q4 targets

Twitter on Tuesday posted 27 percent user growth, missing Wall Street estimates, and warned this rate would slow in the upcoming quarters as a boost from the pandemic fizzles.

The social media company, which beat quarterly sales and profit estimates, said expenses would rise 25 percent or more in 2021 but projected that total revenue would grow faster than costs.

Shares closed up 2.9 percent at $59.87 and were up another 3 percent after hours.

In the fourth quarter, Twitter said it had 192 million average monetizable daily active users (mDAU) — its term for the number of daily users who can view ads. Analysts were expecting 196.5 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Twitter said user growth was driven by product improvements and more global conversation from events like the COVID-19 pandemic and the US election. Some temporary changes to reduce misinformation around the US election had a small negative impact on global user growth, it said.

CEO Jack Dorsey’s social media company has been in the spotlight amid global debates over what is allowed on the site — from its ban on former President Donald Trump to its recent refusal to comply with an Indian government directive to block accounts linked to the farmers’ protest.

In a letter to shareholders, Twitter said the significant pandemic-related surge in users last year created challenges for future gains.

Twitter’s advertising business benefitted from new ad formats and improved targeting, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal said in the earnings release.

Total revenue came in at a record $1.29 billion, an increase of 28 percent year over year. Ad revenue was $1.15 billion, up 31 percent from the same period a year ago.

Analysts on average were expecting revenue of $1.19 billion, with ad sales totalling $1.05 billion.

Twitter acquired newsletter startup Revue last month. It also recently launched disappearing tweets called “fleets” as a low-pressure way for users to post on the site and said it had in late Q4 released a beta test of “Spaces,” its audio-chat room feature which has similarities with voice-based app Clubhouse.

Net income rose to $222.1 million, or 27 cents per shares, from $118.8 million, or 15 cents per share a year earlier. Excluding items, Twitter earned 38 cents per share, beating estimates of 31 cents.

Twitter’s costs and expenses were $1.04 billion for the quarter, an increase of 21 percent year over year. It said it expected costs and expenses to rise partly due to plans to grow headcount by more than 20 percent particularly in engineering, product, design and research.

Twitter said it expected total revenue in the current quarter to be between $940 million and $1.04 billion, compared to estimates of $965.14 million.

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Markets pop as Fed chair Jerome Powell commits to low interest rates

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Markets pop as Fed chair Jerome Powell commits to low interest rates

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated plans to keep interest rates close to zero and asset purchases humming along despite signs that the US economy is beginning to recover from the pandemic.

After telling the Senate on Tuesday that he was concerned about inflation, Powell on Wednesday told the House Financial Services Committee he would keep the cheap money flowing until the Fed has made “substantial further progress” taming employment, something he predicted is “likely to take some time.”

The Dow Jones industrial average was recently up 290.26 points at 31,827.61 as investors cheered the prospect of easy money continuing to lift stocks even as it depresses demand for bonds.

Lawmakers from both parties pressed the nation’s chief monetary policymaker on whether the Fed needed to keep up its ultra-accommodative policies with jobs on the rise and bond yields finally showing some signs of life after both imploded in the first half of 2020.

Powell did agree with some House members that the country’s economic future has brightened. Still, he said unemployment remains troublingly high and that “there’s a lot of slack in the labor market” to get to the Fed’s goal of full employment.

The Fed chair declined to comment on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion bailout legislation, but said the package would have a negative impact on inflation.

Through two hours of questioning on Wednesday, House members — the same committee that ran the Reddit Rally hearing last week — had not asked Powell about the Fed’s actions on protecting the kind of retail investors who drove up the price of GameStop in January.

On Tuesday however, Powell did acknowledge to the Senate that he believed the excess liquidity being pumped into markets by the Fed had an impact on causing the Reddit Rally.

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GameStop stock jumps as finance boss leaves amid Reddit saga

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GameStop stock jumps as finance boss leaves amid Reddit saga

GameStop’s stock price surged Wednesday after the “Reddit rally” favorite hinted at efforts to supercharge its digital growth plans.

Shares in the Texas-based video game retailer climbed as much as 10 percent to an intraday peak of $49.57 after it announced that chief financial officer James Bell would leave on March 26 after less than two years in the job.

The company said it’s hired an executive search firm to help pick a successor who can “help accelerate GameStop’s transformation.”

The company has been seeking to shift its business from selling physical video game equipment to dealing in digital games as the industry moves online.  

GameStop did not explain why Bell was resigning except to say in a Tuesday regulatory filing that his departure was “not because of any disagreement with the company” or any issue with its operations, policies or practices.

Bell is slated to receive a roughly $30 million compensation package on his way out the door, including $2.8 million in severance and millions more in stock, according to Bloomberg News.

“The company thanks Mr. Bell for his significant contributions and leadership, including his efforts over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic,” GameStop said in a press release.

The shakeup came less than a month after rookie investors on Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum pushed GameStop’s share price as high as $483 in a campaign to squeeze hedge funds that had bet against the stock.

The unprecedented market frenzy made GameStop synonymous with the populist uprising in the stock market that drew the attention of federal lawmakers and regulators. The company stayed quiet and reportedly decided against raising money by selling shares during the rally.

GameStop is pursuing a turnaround led in part by Chewy.com founder Ryan Cohen, who was named to the company’s board in January after buying a 13 percent stake.

Some investors — including Keith Gill, the retail trader known as “Roaring Kitty” who’s been credited with sparking the GameStop surge — think the retailer can reinvigorate itself by expanding its e-commerce business.

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Dave Portnoy grills Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev over GameStop

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Dave Portnoy grills Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev over GameStop

Congress is nothing compared to Davey Day Trader.

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy put the screws to Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev as he accused the stock-trading app of turning its back on amateur investors during the GameStop saga.

“You did something and gave a huge advantage to the big guy that is the exact opposite of helping the little guy,” Portnoy told Tenev during a Tuesday night livestream broadcast on Twitter. “You killed the little guy.”

Portnoy grilled Tenev about Robinhood’s decision last month to temporarily halt trading of “meme stocks” such as GameStop and AMC Entertainment that had been pumped up on Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum.

Portnoy — who’s made a name for himself as a foul-mouthed day-trading maven over the past year — previously claimed he lost about $700,000 on such stocks, which surged in late January before tanking earlier this month.

“Robinhood manipulated that stock price. You cratered it,” Portnoy told Tenev, referring to GameStop.

Fresh off his appearance before the House Financial Services Committee last week, Tenev stood by the decision, saying it helped Robinhood stave off a cash crunch at a time when it was already under heavy financial pressure.

The Silicon Valley startup probably would have let customers continue buying GameStop shares had a Wall Street clearinghouse not sent Robinhood a dead-of-night demand for a $3 billion deposit, Tenev said.

“If we had a bunch more headroom, yes, we probably would have let things continue,” Tenev told Portnoy.

“If we didn’t act, we very likely could have faced a liquidity issue in the future. So we had to act,” he later added. “And that’s why I said we had to act to protect the firm and our customers, because if the firm can’t — I mean, if the firm can’t continue to serve our customers, that’s a much worse situation.”

Portnoy had not been shy about his anger toward Robinhood leading up to the tête-à-tête. On Jan. 28, the day the app blocked trading on GameStop, he fired off a tweet threatening to “burn @RobinhoodApp to the ground.”

Portnoy was similarly confrontational Tuesday night. Before the interview started, he called Tenev a “rat and a liar,” then made Tenev watch a video that depicted him as a clown with a big red nose.

“You know everybody here who’s watching this hates your guts, right?” Portnoy said at the start of the broadcast.

“That’s what I hear,” replied Tenev, who was wearing a baseball cap with the words “Taco Tuesday” emblazoned on it.

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