Twitter Reports First Quarterly Profit, Despite User Stagnation

Twitter reported its first profit as a public company on Thursday, a major step as it grapples with persistent criticism over fake accounts on its social network and questions over its prospects for long-term growth.

The news sent the company’s shares up more than 22 percent in premarket trading. Twitter has posted a loss every quarter since it went public in 2013.

The fourth quarter “was a strong finish to the year,” Jack Dorsey, the Twitter chief executive, said in a news release. “I’m proud of the steady progress we made in 2017, and confident in our path ahead.”

Twitter reported a profit of $91 million in the last three months of 2017, compared with a loss of $167 million in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Overall revenue rose 2 percent to $732 million in the quarter. Revenue from advertising, which makes up the bulk of its revenue, rose 1 percent in the quarter.

The company said it had 330 million average monthly users in the fourth quarter, up 4 percent from the prior-year period, but flat from the third quarter.

Twitter has faced a variety of challenges in recent months.

In October, it said that it had overstated its monthly-user figures since 2014 after mistakenly including data from third-party applications in its counting.

And last month, Anthony Noto, Twitter’s chief operating officer and one of Mr. Dorsey’s most trusted deputies, left the company to become chief executive of the embattled online lender Social Finance.

Twitter also is facing criticism as federal and state authorities scrutinize companies that sold millions of fake followers on social media platforms.

More than one million followers of entertainers, athletes and others have disappeared after an article by The New York Times detailed the business practices of a company called Devumi. Twitter previously said it would take action against Devumi’s practices.