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Twitter Posts Biggest-Ever Decline After Macquarie Downgrade

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Investors expect Twitter Inc. to benefit from a surge of mobile-advertising sales. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Twitter Inc. fell the most since it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange after Macquarie Capital downgraded the social-networking company, saying the stock has gone “too far, too fast.”

The shares of the microblogging service fell 13 percent to $63.75 at the close in New York. The stock had almost tripled through yesterday since a Nov. 6 initial public offering.

Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie in New York, lowered his rating from neutral to underperform -- the equivalent of sell. The shares have jumped 40 percent since Macquarie initiated coverage on Dec. 11, without any improvement in Twitter’s fundamentals, Schachter said in a report.

“We continue to believe that Twitter as a company has a bright future and many opportunities ahead,” he said. “However, as a stock, we believe nothing has changed over the last 15 days to justify the rise in valuation.”

The recent rally has put shares of San Francisco-based Twitter well above Schachter’s 12-month price target of $46.

The unprofitable company was valued at $41.6 billion as of yesterday’s close, making it larger than Time Warner Cable Inc., Viacom Inc. or Target Corp. Investors expect Twitter to benefit from a surge of mobile-advertising sales. Still, the wide discrepancies in analyst revenue estimates have raised concerns, Schachter said. Twitter’s IPO had a relatively small number of underwriters, leading to a situation where more than a dozen banks initiated coverage without getting detailed guidance from management, he said.

Twitter also needs time to build up its headcount, according to Schachter. The company has half as many employees as Facebook Inc., the world’s biggest social-networking site.

“It takes time and people to execute against opportunities,” he said.

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