After several months of bad news at Snap Inc., Snapchat’s performance in the fourth quarter sent the beleaguered stock soaring back with gains of more than 20% in after-hours trading Tuesday.
Sound familiar? It should, because we played this game last year at the same time, when Snap
stock added nearly 50% in a single session to surpass its IPO price for the first time in months. The issues Snap faces are little changed in that year, but Snap stock has no chance at approaching its IPO price this time around.
In Tuesday’s earnings report, Snap said its daily average user count came in at 186 million, even with the previous quarter, and executives said they did not foresee a sequential decline next quarter. That is considered progress for Snap after its user base shrank in previous quarters.
The company also managed to boost revenue per user, to $2.09 from $1.53 in the year-ago period, as Snap added new advertisers and increased its prices on a per-impression basis. In addition, Chief Executive Evan Spiegel said growing 2018 revenue 43%, was “bringing profitability within reach.”
“We have worked hard to develop our team and culture in 2018,” Spiegel said in prepared remarks. “The transitions we made in both the Snapchat platform and our business last year were necessary and created many of the opportunities we have ahead of us but change is always difficult and this past year was no exception.”
But not many analysts really drilled down on the past flurry of bad news, including a slew of executive departures, such as Chief Financial Officer Tim Stone, who lasted less than nine months. Snap still has many issues ahead, such as trying to get users older than 35 to join its platform and rolling out its improved Android version of Snapchat, which is currently keeping users on lower-end smartphones away. But no exact time frame was specified for that rollout.
Executives also talked about ways they are driving efficiencies, such as lowering the costs of its infrastructure by tens of millions of dollars by re-engineering bandwidth usage on Snapchat.
“While we were impressed with the company’s ability to demonstrate cost control and sustain revenue growth, we would not be surprised if similar to last year, this rally is ultimately faded,” wrote Anthony DiClemente, an Evercore ISI analyst, in a note late Tuesday. “The simple reality is that the path to GAAP profitability remains unclear, user trajectory remains more or less flat, and the company continues to burn through around $150 million of cash per quarter.”
for years. Still, investors seemed somewhat pacified by a statement that Snap executives don’t foresee further losses in daily active users (DAUs) in the next quarter. Wall Street was looking for Snap to show a slight sequential decline in DAUs, according to Factset, to 185 million, before Tuesday’s earnings.
Read more about What Snap was expected to address in its earnings report.
Investors were clearly upbeat on the results, with Snap’s shares surging to around $8.45 in after-hours, but the stock is still far from its IPO price of $17. Before investors have faith to drive its shares back up higher, Snap still has a lot to prove.
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