Snap stock drops 34% after revenue miss and weak guidance

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    Snap CEO on revenue miss and light guidance

    Shares of Snap closed down more than 34% on Wednesday, a day after the social media company missed revenue estimates and issued light guidance in its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report.

    The company is struggling with a slower rebound from a tough 2022 advertising market compared to other firms such as Meta.

    It was Snap’s third worst day on the market since its debut in 2017. Its two biggest one-day declines were a 43% drop in May 2022 and a 39% plunge two months later.

    Snap reported revenue of $1.36 billion for the quarter, slightly below the $1.38 billion expected by analysts, according to LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv. The company reported adjusted EPS of 8 cents versus the 6 cents analysts expected.

    The results mark the company’s sixth straight quarter of single-digit growth or sales declines. Snap forecast that its growth would gain momentum in the first quarter but not as swiftly as analysts expected.

    Analysts at Morgan Stanley maintained their underweight rating of Snap and lowered their price target to $11 in a note to investors Wednesday, writing that the company’s ad turnaround was slower than expected and its engagement weak. They noted that strong ad improvements and impression growth at Meta and Amazon could represent another headwind for Snap’s ad revenue.

    “While we are encouraged by the progress we are making with our ad platform and the improved results we are delivering for many of our advertising partners, we estimate that the onset of the conflict in the Middle East was a headwind to year-over-year growth of approximately 2 percentage points in Q4,” Snap said in a letter to investors.

    Barclays analysts remained optimistic after the earnings, keeping an overweight rating and $15 price target on the stock and writing that “buying the dip seems worrying but is likely the right thing to do here.”

    “Stepping back, 4Q was a mixed bag, but the acceleration in 1Q gives us confidence that things are getting back on track,” the analysts wrote. “SNAP feels like META around 5 quarters ago, at the cusp of some pretty nice recovery trends but with few believers in the thesis.”

    JPMorgan analysts reiterated their underweight rating of Snap shares while raising their price target from $9 to $11 based on 2025 revenue expectations of around $5.9 billion, and wrote that “stronger growth in engagement and the ad platform” is needed in light of the “choppy recovery” reflected in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings and first-quarter outlook.

    “In the meantime, the extreme volatility in Snap shares will keep many at a distance, & the company will need to continue to show that it can drive improved execution,” they wrote.

    In an interview on CNBC’s “Money Movers” on Wednesday, CEO Evan Spiegel said Snap is “already seeing” improved advertiser performance, which the company expects will lead to increased revenue.  

    “I do think advertisers are looking for an alternative to these very large Big Tech advertising companies,” Spiegel said. “They want to diversify their advertising spend, but they need to see the performance and that’s why we’ve been investing so heavily in our direct response.”

    Responding to a question about Snap’s decision earlier this week to eliminate around 10% of its global workforce, or around 500 employees, Spiegel said the cuts will strengthen execution by removing management layers to allow the company to “move faster.”

    — CNBC’s Michael Bloom and Jonathan Vanian contributed to this report.

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