In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) late Thursday, Twilio (NYSE:TWLO) seemed to suggest that its upcoming third-quarter results could be far better than the company originally forecast.

The rather terse statement read simply, "Twilio Inc. (the "Company") announces that it preliminarily expects that the Company's total revenue for the quarter ended September 30, 2020 will be ahead of the Company's previously issued guidance of $401 million to $406 million." That brief missive sent Twilio's stock soaring, gaining nearly 10% in after-hours trading. 

What gives?

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Companies will regularly provide forward-looking guidance, which is nothing more than management's informed estimate of how the company will perform in the coming quarter. It isn't unusual for business to be more brisk than expected, causing the company to exceed its own guidance.

A brief look at Twilio's results shows that it exceeded management's guidance in three of the past four quarters. In fact, during the first and second quarters of 2020, Twilio's total revenue exceeded management's forecast by 8% and 8.3%, respectively. In neither of those cases did Twilio submit a filing with the SEC that it expected to exceed its guidance. 

The fact that management felt it necessary to notify the SEC suggests that the company's revenue growth will exceed its guidance by a much wider margin than it did on those previous occasions. Given the high end of Twilio's guidance of $406 million -- which would represent growth of 38% year over year -- and the potential that revenue could beat that estimate by more than 8%, suggests revenue grew to at least $438 million, up 49% -- or potentially even more.

It's important to note that the regulatory filing also reminded investors that Twilio's "actual results could differ" from its preliminary estimates.

Stay tuned.

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