Twitter Inc shares have lost more than 30 percent of their value in the last three months, but Wall Street isn’t able to decide how to react to the loss. While some, like Jim Cramer, reckon that the firm has proven it’s unable to manage itself, others, like Bill Miller, former CEO at Legg Mason Inc , reckons that now is the time to buy.
Mr. Miller says that those looking to value Twitter should remember what the firm really is. “Twitter is a giant global sensor network with the sensors being people,” he says, and that’s going to drive value in the long term. Mr. Miller made the comments on CNBC on Wednesday.
Twitter shows signs of life
On Wednesday July 15 Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler said that he reckons Twitter shares could will hit $60. He rates the firm at Buy and says that in the midst of Twitter’s collapse he sees “signs of life.” Like Mr. Miller, Sandler doesn’t think that Twitter is going to explode right now, but the pieces are in place to give the firm a strong run over the next year.
Though Sandler thinks that Twitter user numbers could come in better than expected when the firm releases its numbers, he says that real growth won’t happen until 2016. He says that sales “may actually be fine in 2015” and user numbers might hit 304m for the three months through June.
Most of Wall Street still thinks that Twitter has plenty of room for growth from its current price, but the risks have become greater in the wake of leadership losses. Sandler says that those issues are overblown. “Outside of the CEO departure,” he says, “the rest of management is largely intact.”
Wall Street has a median price target of $44.50 right now. Mr. Sandler’s $60 target is the current high among research firms. The lowest forecast comes in at $26.
Looking ahead at Twitter
For Mr. Miller and Mr. Sandler, it’s all about the future at Twitter . The firm has a great product that 300m people love and there has to be a way to make money from it.
Mr. Sandler thinks that the ad framework is already there, but it will be next year before the results can be seen. “Direct response advertising dollars should start flowing through in size in 2016 once all the measurement plumbing is in place, which should prop up growth rates,” he wrote.
Right now Twitter is trading on rumors that another firm might see value in the “giant global sensor network” that Mr. Miller thinks it is. On Wednesday the price of shares jumped briefly after Softbank COO Nikesh Arora said he would look to buy the company ‘at the right price.’
Japan’s biggest wireless firm has been making moves into all sorts of spaces, with robots the most surprising, in recent years. There are many other firms rumored to be looking at a pitch for Twitter, but none have made their thoughts public.
Right now most buy out stories are based on nothing but rumor, and New York’s traders are known for their need to talk even when something’s not true.
Twitter can do well without needing to be bought if Mr. Sandler’s forecast is to be believed, but there are hurdles in the way right now. Twitter earnings will be released on July 28 after the market closes on Wall Street.
Until then the market has to decide whether to believe in the vision of Twitter offered by Mr. Miller and Mr. Sandler. The other option is to stay out of the stock, or actively bet against it. Twitter short interest at the end of June was lower than at any time since August of 2014. That means that not too many are ready to bet against the firm just yet.