SAN FRANCISCO -- Twitter on Tuesday proved to be the World Cup champion of Silicon Valley, reporting earnings that blew away Wall Street's expectations and a surge in new users drawn to the site during the world's most popular sporting event.

The San Francisco-based social-networking company's results, which CEO Dick Costolo termed "truly exceptional," sent its shares up more than 30 percent in after-hours trading and appear to have eased for now investors' concerns about the company's ability to attract and keep new users.

Twitter stock, which peaked at more than $74 in late 2013, had fallen to less than half that price amid concerns about the microblogging website's ability to compete with more popular rivals like Facebook. Soccer's quadrennial international championship offered a chance to change that perception, and the company took advantage of it, attracting 16 million new users over the previous quarter, its largest gain in more than a year.

"During the World Cup, we delivered the kind of events experience I've wanted to see from us for some time," Costolo said in Tuesday's earnings conference call. "These experiences felt alive, they felt wonderfully complementary to the matches themselves."


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Twitter's approach to the World Cup, which provided game scores and a stream of tweets from popular fans such as pop star Rihanna on a page targeted to users and nonusers, could provide a template for future Twitter coverage of live events.

"It's becoming clear that, for nonusers, it's going to be useful to have a topic-based or event-based landing page," Jan Dawson, founder and chief analyst for Jackdaw Research, said Tuesday.

While Twitter can use a team of workers to create customized pages to drive traffic during large events such as the World Cup -- and therefore find a larger audience for the advertisements that drive its revenues -- that approach is too labor-intensive for everyday use.

"You can do a dozen big events a year, but how many more, smaller events can you really cover in that same way?" Dawson asked.

Dawson suggested that the company could use an automated process to guide new users through a sign-on process that can be overwhelming. With this approach, the company would ask users to to pick topics they want to follow and offer to show them related accounts or automatically create a personalized feed, which would in theory keep more people interested in the site, and Costolo said Tuesday he is not averse to such an approach.

"We think we could make it a lot better ... for those users who are new to the platform and coming to the platform for the first time, getting them value immediately," he said.

Twitter reported a second-quarter loss of $144.6 million, or 24 cents a share, on sales of $312.2 million, but after adjusting for factors such as stock-based compensation for employees, the company said it made a profit of $14.6 million, or 2 cents a share. Analysts had expected Twitter to report a loss of a penny a share after adjustments on revenues of $283.1 million, according to Thomson Reuters.

The social network ended the quarter with 271 million people accessing its platform at least once a month, 24 percent higher than the year-ago quarter. The World Cup produced 672 million tweets and a peak during the final game of 618,725 tweets per minute, both records for a live event, according to Twitter.

Possibly concerned that Wall Street would see the user surge as a one-time event, Costolo downplayed the World Cup's effect on user growth, pointing instead to product changes he has championed. Twitter's leader also reshaped his executive suite last quarter, jettisoning the chief operating officer and bringing on new Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto, a former Goldman Sachs and NFL executive who helped lead Twitter through its IPO.

"I came here with one belief, that we can build the largest audience in the world," Noto said.

Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/jowens510.