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Twitter's stock tumbles after Q3 miss driven by technical issues

Twitter Inc.'s stock plunged by more than 17% in early trading Oct. 24 after the company missed third-quarter revenue and profit expectations due in large part to technical problems with its ad platform that executives said will continue to weigh on the fourth quarter.

Twitter in August disclosed that bugs in its system may have allowed the ad platform to share certain user data with the company's advertising and measurement partners, even if a user had opted out of such sharing arrangements. The issue primarily impacted Twitter's legacy Mobile Application Promotion product. The problem has curtailed the company's ability to deliver certain targeted advertising.

Speaking on an Oct. 24 earnings call, Twitter CFO Ned Segal said the bugs reduced revenue growth by 3 or more percentage points in the third quarter and could reduce growth by 4 or more percentage points in the fourth quarter as the company fixes the ad platform.

"Certain personalization and data sightings were not operating as expected," Segal said during the call. "These issues were in our control and we will work to do better."

Asked how the issue could impact 2020, Segal replied that "some continued impact" could result from the ad platform issues that persist into next year.

Twitter on Oct. 24 reported third-quarter revenue of $823.7 million, up 9% year over year from $758.1 million. That compared to the S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus revenue estimate of $875.2 million.

Third-quarter revenue was also impacted by greater-than-expected seasonality in July and August, Twitter executives said, pointing to year-over-year differences in major sporting events that occurred in the summer. Ad sales did rebound in September, particularly in the U.S., they said.

Net income for the third quarter totaled $36.5 million, or 5 cents per share, down from $789.2 million, or $1.02 per share, in the third quarter of 2018. Non-GAAP net income for the quarter was $136.8 million, or 17 cents per share, down from $162.7 million, or 21 cents per share, a year ago.

The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus EPS estimate was 9 cents on a GAAP basis and 20 cents on a normalized basis.

Worldwide monetizable daily active users totaled 145 million at the end of the third quarter, up from 124 million a year earlier. U.S. users accounted for 30 million of the total, compared to 26 million in the prior year. The company's international user base grew to 115 million, compared to 98 million.

Twitter expects fourth-quarter revenue of $940 million to $1.01 billion. Operating income for the fourth quarter is expected to range from $130 million to $170 million.