The Snapchat app developer saw its stock rating slashed to hold from buy Sunday night by analysts at Jefferies. While the analysts were quick to applaud Snap's decision to overhaul its app, the near-term execution risk of the redesign should be of greater concern to investors.
"We remain positive on Snap's platform and positioning with millennials focused on digital video, however fundamental execution needs to be shown in top line and user metrics to become more positive on the name," Jefferies analyst Brent Thill wrote. "Advertisers see the Snap ads in the "social" tab as more valuable, being displayed next to meaningful conversations and sharing -- improvements continue on the ad tech stack which have been welcomed by advertisers, but budgets continue to be in a test mode until greater conversion can be proven."
Thill added that Snap's lack of guidance to investors will continue to keep the stock volatile. Facebook (FB) - Get Report continues to be Jefferies' top social media play, a call that is hard to argue.
Snap shares fell 1.3% in pre-market trading Monday.
Hot tech stocks Facebook (FB) - Get Report , Apple (AAPL) - Get Report and Alphabet (GOOGL) - Get Report are all cheap relative to analysts' 2018-2019 earnings expectations, TheStreet's founder Jim Cramer says.
"I do believe they represent the kind of high-growth stocks we need to own long term," Cramer said in a private conference call with members of his Action Alerts PLUS club for investors in early December.
Snap recently rolled out an update to its popular app with a goal of making it easier to use. For instance, Snap eliminated the Stories page and brought back auto-advance for user created stories. It also bolstered its algorithms to better personalize what users see.
Even still, Wall Street is lukewarm on Snap's prospects this year.
Analyst John Blackledge of Cowen & Co. cut his price target on Snap's stock to $11 this week as he reduced his view on the social media group. The analyst's research indicated that 96% of ad buyers preferred Instagram stories versus the 4% that preferred the Snapchat messaging app platform.
But hey, at least Snap co-founder Even Spiegel could toss one mean New Year's Eve bash.
-Martin Baccardax and Scott Gamm contributed to this story.
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