What you need to know to trade Twitter ahead of Thursday’s earnings

Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) is set to announce its first-quarter earnings results on Thursday and some analysts expect the microblogging platform to again incur losses on the back of its increased infrastructure and marketing spending amid tight competition.

Saturated market

The company, once among the most popular social media channels globally, has become old news particularly to young people with the emergence of platforms like TikTok and Snapchat (NYSE:SNAP).

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) remains the market leader among social networking sites globally in 2022 in terms of the number of monthly active users, while Twitter has lagged far behind WhatsApp, Instagram, WeChat, TikTok, Snapchat, Telegram and Pinterest in terms of the number of users, according to data from Statista.

Stronger market competition over the past years has prompted Twitter to boost its spending on research and development, and sales and marketing over the recent years.

Losses mount

In 2021, Twitter’s R&D expenses ballooned 43% from 2020 to $1.25 billion, while sales and marketing costs surged 32% year on year to $1.18 billion. These pushed the company’s overall costs and expenses up 51% to $5.57 billion in 2021 and resulted in a net loss of $221 million for the whole year.

Still, the figure was down from a net loss of $1.14 billion in 2020 when the pandemic battered the company’s operations. For the first quarter of 2022, Twitter expects GAAP operating loss of between $225 million and $175 million, against an operating income of $52 million in the year-ago period.

Twitter also expects its quarterly revenue to range between $1.17 billion and $1.27 billion, up from $1.04 billion last year. Analysts expect the company to post a 22% jump in Q1 revenue to $1.57 billion, significantly up from the company’s targeted range. The analysts pegged Twitter’s earnings per share for Q1 at $0.33, down 13.2% from last year.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, although total ad engagements fell 12% year over year, Twitter still managed to rake in $1.41 billion in fourth-quarter ad revenue, up 22% from a year prior.

Musk’s $44 billion offer

Ahead of its earnings release on Thursday, Twitter became the subject of an acquisition offer from Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. On Monday, the New York Times reported that Twitter is close to reaching a deal to sell itself to Musk after the latter launched an unsolicited go-private bid worth $54.20, or a total transaction value of ~$44 billion.

That figure represents a substantial premium from Twitter’s current $37 billion market value as of Friday.

Musk has made his plans for Twitter quite clear. Even before the billionaire built a 9.2% stake in the company for an estimated $2.9 billion, Musk has been vocal about how Twitter’s policies quash free speech. However, the Tesla CEO has been notorious in the past for making big market-moving stunts that lead to bigger regulatory concerns for companies that he control.

In his letter to Twitter’s board made public on Friday, Musk said “Twitter has extraordinary potential.  I will unlock it.”

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