Snap (SNAP) posted its first quarterly report as a public company on Wednesday and the results shed light on many of the social media upstart's vulnerabilities: Snap is struggling to maintain user growth and its path to profitability remains unclear. The results sent shares diving after-market Wednesday, and they were opened trading on Thursday down about 20% to $18.43 on Thursday morning. At that level, the stock price is just barely above Snap's initial offering price of $17.
The parent company of ephemeral messaging app Snapchat missed Wall Street's expectations on all three of its most-watched metrics -- earnings, revenue and user growth. For the fiscal first quarter, Snap reported a loss of $2.21 billion, higher than the net loss of $104.6 million it reported one year earlier, although the company said $2 billion of the costs were due to a one-time stock-based compensation tied to its initial public offering in March. Among those expenses, CEO Evan Spiegel received a $750 million bonus for taking the company public.
Revenue surged 286% year-over-year to $150 million, but that still fell short of Wall Street's projected $158 million. Daily active users (DAUs) came in at 166 million -- a 5% increase quarter-over-quarter -- and missed analysts' estimated 168 million DAUs.
Following the results, Wall Street was divided among the bulls and the bears, the latter of which seemed to believe that the risks can't be overlooked. Here's what they had to say about the quarter:
Brian Wieser, Pivotal Research Group (Sell, Price Target lowered to $9 from $10)
"Snap reported light 1Q17 earnings, representing a decline in revenues vs. 4Q16, which while consistent with the company's prior guidance, nonetheless represents a surprising element of seasonality in the business, and risks of less growth ahead than we previously expected...As a very-early stage company, Snap remains incredibly difficult to value vs. other companies in our coverage universe."
Jason Helfstein, Oppenheimer (Upgraded to Outperform from Perform, $23 PT)
"Revenues in 1Q:17 missed Street estimates, but exceeded Oppenheimer's by 7%. Numerous firms (12 of 26 brokers) ignored prospectus disclosure suggesting sequentially declining revenue in 1Q:17...Products will continue
to be made for universal use, not tailored toward on-boarding older users."
Ross Sandler, Barclays (Equal Weight, $18 PT)
"The 7m DAU net-adds were not strong enough to disprove the 'Facebook is crushing Snapchat' thesis, which we think persists for a while... We still like the long-term backdrop for SNAP's innovation and overall potential, and given the sharp pullback, we are getting more interested now the market is starting to discount a lower bar for future execution."
Kevin Rippey, Nomura (Reduce, PT lowered to $14 from $16)
"SNAP came to the public markets just as its user and monetization growth were both starting to meaningfully slow. It now faces incrementally fierce competition from deeper-pocketed rivals including FB, and continues to trade at a valuation that looks quite lofty to us, even considering yesterday's aftermarket selloff."
Scott Devitt, Stifel (Hold, PT lowered to $22 from $24)
"Snap operates a nascent advertising business in hyper-growth mode and a cutting edge mobile application...leading to a wide variety of potential revenue / user growth outcomes in the near-term. We continue to think Snap has the potential to develop into a durable digital media franchise with considerable upside from its current market cap, but investor skepticism and near-term supply / demand dynamics related to the company's impending lock-up expiration could hold Snap's stock price in check for the time being."
Brian White, Drexel Hamilton (Buy, $30 PT)
"Given the size of the opportunity in front of Snap and the early stages of the company's development, we do not believe it is constructive to nitpick every detail of the company's first few quarterly reports, or investors risk missing the forest for the trees."
John Blackledge, Cowen (Outperform, PT lowered to $21 from $26)
"Our thesis is intact, we expect product innovations to drive / retain users and expect SNAP to monetize the platform over time, as the company is undermonetized relative to peers across all markets and is really just turning on the lights in Europe and ROW. That said and despite our estimate cuts, expectations will remain high and SNAP will need to execute on recent ad monetization initiatives near and longer term."
Blake Harper, Loop Capital (Hold, PT lowered to $18 from $21)
"On the positive side, Snap saw increasing engagement from both time spent on the app and the number of daily Snaps sent, and new ad tools should help drive revenue growth. Management offered no financial guidance, no outlook for DAUs, and no insight on its product pipeline, which will likely diminish investor confidence."
Peter Stabler, Wells Fargo (Overweight, PT lowered to $18 from $21)
"SNAP's first conference call as a public company was less than rosy...We believe user growth remains a key issue for investors, as a steady growth deceleration over the course of 2016 led to questions of whether Snapchat is a mass-market product that can broaden materially beyond its concentrated young user base."