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Snapchat has set its first earnings call for May, and investors only care about users, users, users

Biz Carson
Evan Spiegel

(Snap CEO Evan SpiegelREUTERS/Mike Blake)
Snap has a date with Wall Street.

The maker of the popular messaging app announced on Wednesday that it's set to host its first ever quarterly earnings call as a public company on May 10. 

For Snap, it will be an important opportunity to regain its luster after a rocky debut and to make a good impression with the finicky shareholders that the company now answers to.

The two big questions on everyone's mind:

  • Has Snapchat's user growth re-accelerated?
  • Will CEO Evan Spiegel be on the call?

There's no word on whether the 26-year old Spiegel will participate in the call, as arch-rival Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg does every quarter.

Skipping the calls would not be unprecedented. Google cofounder Larry Page stopped doing conference calls years ago, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is never on earnings call. Snap declined to comment. But with Snap's stock suffering, investors may be eager to hear the vision from the founder.

Snap's stock soared more than 50% percent on its first day of trading, reaching $26, but has since sunk back to around $20, as investors fret about user growth and competition from the likes of Facebook's Instagram.

No guidance

The company said in its IPO prospectus that it does not plan to offer financial guidance for the quarters ahead. 

That leaves analysts doing the lion's share of predicting what's happening to Snap's business and where it will go from here. And ahead of Snap's first-ever earnings report, they seem to only care about one thing: users. 

A "lot is hinging" on the company's daily active user numbers although the "long term outlook remains solid", wrote Barclays analyst Ross Sandler in a note Wednesday.

"As a newly public company, DAU adds are by far the most important metric for SNAP investors, and a beat here should assuage investor concerns regarding competition from Instagram/Facebook/Messenger, and should help drive the stock up meaningfully," Sandler said. "Another sluggish DAU and shares are likely to trade off, potentially a lot."

Sandler called it a "binary event" where anything above nine million added daily active users will move the stock up, but anything below it could do just the opposite. 

Snapchat's user growth had slowed down going into the third and fourth quarters after a botched product release on Android and increasing competition from Instagram. Facebook has continued to copy Snapchat's features, adding "Stories" to both the main newsfeed and Messenger, along with Instagram. But Barclay's Sandler argues that Snap should get be able to pass the bar set by investors of around 10 million in new daily active users now that it's resolved some of the bugs and Snap's leadership comments that the company was "back on track," according the Barclays note.

Whether or not Snap has cleared that hurdle will now be answered on May 10. 

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