There's no point in sugarcoating Snap Inc.'s (NYSE: SNAP) rough first quarter. It was brutal, sending the shares down 22% on Wednesday. The stock would go on to hit a new all-time low, which is technically just a 14-month low since that's how long Snapchat's parent company has been trading.
Investors don't want to have anything to do with Snap, but let's not be so quick to write off the out-of-favor social snapshot specialist. Snap may be a broken IPO, but it doesn't always have to stay that way.
Image source: Snap, Inc.
1. Snap is still growing faster than its larger competitor
Growth has decelerated in all but one quarter in Snap's brief publicly traded tenure, and the 54% in year-over-year revenue growth that Snap is sporting this week is a record low. You would still have to think that most companies would kill for that kind of octane. Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is the market darling and undisputed top dog in social media, and the market went wild for its 49% year-over-year gain last week.
Snap bears -- and Facebook bulls, for that matter -- will argue that it's not fair to focus on just year-over-year growth. Snapchat's parent posted a rough 19% sequential decline in revenue, in part due to an unpopular platform redesign. However, seasonality also weighs on the quarter-over-quarter results. Facebook has posted sequential declines between 8% and 9% in each of the last three years between the fourth quarter and the subsequent first quarter.
It's true that Facebook's growth rate is actually accelerating, and Snap's moving in the other direction. Snap isn't Facebook, and in many ways, Facebook is eating Snap's lunch. I get that. However, as long as Snap is posting top-line growth -- and healthy double-digit gains, at that -- it's hard to bet against the platform.
2. The market knew this was going to be a rough quarter
Snapchat's poorly received redesign isn't a surprise. Social media has been ablaze with regulars including some influential celebrities voicing their displeasure for months. Snap stock even took a hit last week, following reports that it was retreating on some its site redesign features. One would think that the market would applaud the move, but the general and eventually rightful consensus was that Snap was tinkering with its platform because engagement and monetization were proving problematic.
However, if the market was already bracing for a weak quarter as a result of the redesign why did the stock take a hit? The obvious answer is that revenue still landed short of Wall Street expectations, and its near-term outlook suggests continuing deceleration. I get it. This isn't a good look for a company during earnings season. The point is that the stock was already discounted ahead of the report.
3. Innovation will be a game changer
Snap trading well below last year's $17 IPO price isn't fatal. Let's not forget that Facebook was also a broken IPO for several months after going public. All it takes is a bar-raising feature to get hot again, and it's certainly not afraid to think outside of the box.
Just in the past few weeks we've seen an updated version of Spectacles camera eyewear, Snappables augmented reality mobile games, group video chat, and the Shoppable AR platform for advertisers seeking deeper marketing connections. Even if Facebook or Facebook's Instagram winds up copying Snap to enhance the more popular platforms, Snap should still come out ahead.
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