Twitter share price mood swing signals investors are ready for company takeover

By @giherela on
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Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square and CEO of Twitter Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Twitter, who changed the world of microblogging, continues to stumble in the stock market this week as it fends off takeover rumours with an invisible hand.

The San Francisco company, which is down 57 percent in the last year, fell six percent on Wednesday morning, effectively demoting CEO Jack Dorsey from a billionaire to a millionaire.

“At the Forbes 400 in September, we pegged Dorsey’s net worth at $2.2bn, thanks in large part to Square’s (which Dorsey co-founded) $6bn dollar private valuation,” Forbes reporter Kate Vinton, who tracks the world’s wealthiest, wrote after Twitter’s shares hit an all-time low of $15.48 following outages to its website and services.

“His net worth  dropped $800m to just below $1.4bn when [Square] went public in November at $11.20 a share. Now, with both companies [Twitter and Square] struggling on the stock market, he’s fallen out of the three-comma club with a net worth of $944m.”

Interestingly, a day after Twitter’s nosedive, share prices rebounded for a hot minute to about $19 when speculations emerged that News Corp was interested in buying the company.

When the media conglomerate, who owns FOX and The Wall Street Journal, denied the rumours, prices swiftly went on the decline again.

Twitter Inc. (TWTR) Stock Price | FindTheCompany

“Looks like opportunistic buying,” Brian Wieser, analyst at Pivotal Research, told Bloomberg following Twitter’s stock mood swing this week. “Twitter should have a price floor given potential for acquisition in the long run.”

The tech giant once dubbed "the SMS of the internet" has long been a target of takeover rumours, with Google, Facebook, Alibaba, Apple and Time Warner being some of the assumed candidates who have been ‘looking’ to get their hands in Twitter’s pie of over 300 million active users. For many onlookers, a takeover bid has become a matter of waiting it out until prices are “low enough”.

In fact, if Twitter’s price movements this week are anything to go by, it seems like investors are hoping that Twitter will be bought out by another corporation – and “desperately” so too, Re/code points out.

RTX154BG Happier times: Twitter CEO Dick Costolo (R) celebrates the Twitter IPO with Twitter founders Jack Dorsey (L), Biz Stone (2nd L) and Evan Williams on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, November 7, 2013.  Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Much of the talk keeps coming back to 39-year-old Jack Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter, but lost his position as chief in 2008. In October 2015, he was reinstated as permanent CEO of Twitter, but confidence in him has only continued to wane.

“People don’t feel reassured about what is going on at Twitter,” said seed stage investment company SK Ventures’ Paul Kedrosky, who is also a Bloomberg Contributing editor.

“There’s a sense that it’s not clear anything has changed,” Kedrosky told Bloomberg. “Investors have a really clear sense that these companies [Square and Twitter] have a path, and that in particular there is a strong direction coming from the top – from Jack – in terms of where these companies are going and whether investors should feel confident.”

Considering Twitter has no preferred stock, it wouldn’t be hard for companies such as Apple and Google, or an activist investor (investors who look to purchase enough shares to effect major change in a company), to swoop in and take control.

It is also not hard to believe that Twitter is a prime takeover target, although Kedrosky notes that the usual suspects – Microsoft, Apple, Google – are not the right list of companies to watch. He instead believes an eye should be kept on Asian capital trying to pick up growth assets in US dollars, particularly Weibo and Softbank.

RTX1UQTL The ticker information for Twitter Inc., is displayed on a screen above the post where it's traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange November 4, 2015.  Reuters/Brendan McDermid

However there are still some in Dorsey’s camp, including Twitter’s board, who probably would not accept a takeover bid anytime soon, especially since Dorsey has only been chief for about six months.

Re/code also mentions fresh initiatives such as Twitter Moments, which showcases the best stories happening on the platform, as ways user growth could be accelerated. Targeting ads at users who don’t have an active account but often browse on Twitter could also be a game changer for the company.

RELATED: Twitter may expand character limits on tweets to 10,000

For now though, it’s fastest sellers first and the sentiment for many seems to be that Dorsey should or will go, sooner or later.

“I think Twitter has had its run at being a public company,” said Kedrosky. “I think this is a company that needs to be a part of another company, and I don’t think it makes it out of 2016 as an independent company.”