What happened

Shares of Twilio (NYSE:TWLO) are skyrocketing today, trading 40.7% higher at 1:20 p.m. EDT. The provider of cloud-based communications tools and services absolutely destroyed Wall Street's estimates in Wednesday night's first-quarter earnings report.

So what

Twilio's first-quarter revenues rose 57% year over year to $365 million. Adjusted earnings increased from $0.05 to $0.06 per diluted share. Your average analyst would have settled for a net loss of $0.11 per share on sales near $332 million.

An office worker with black glasses and a white t-shirt works with two laptops and a tablet computer at a living room table. He is also wearing a blue face mask.

Twilio's favorite user: a connected office worker, confined to his own living room. Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

For many Twilio customers, the company's digital communications services were just the thing to keep the business world moving during the COVID-19 crisis.

"Our platform provides three things the world needs right now: digital engagement, software agility and cloud-scale," CEO Jeff Lawson said in the earnings call. "Technologies such as messaging, email, voice and video has enabled many parts of the economy to continue working, while keeping its participants safe, moving quickly, building prototypes and iterating as our needs evolve has been critical for nearly every kind of organization."

This stock isn't cheap by any stretch of the imagination, trading at 19 times trailing sales with negative earnings and cash flow. That's life in the fast lane, as Twilio keeps investing pretty much every cent of spare cash into growth-boosting activities. The marketing budget in this quarter accounted for 32% of incoming revenues, up from 30.7% in the year-ago quarter.

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