Snap stock plunges 25% as advertising slows down, executives decline to offer forecast

Snap Inc.’s stock snapped Thursday after the company disclosed slackening digital advertising and hinted at cost-cutting while declining to provide a financial forecast. Snap’s SNAP, +4.59% results — the first among the major tech companies who rely heavily on digital advertising to report this quarter — likely portend choppy times […]

Snap Inc.’s stock snapped Thursday after the company disclosed slackening digital advertising and hinted at cost-cutting while declining to provide a financial forecast.

Snap’s
SNAP,
+4.59%
results — the first among the major tech companies who rely heavily on digital advertising to report this quarter — likely portend choppy times ahead for Alphabet Inc.’s
GOOGL,
+2.39%

GOOG,
+2.36%
Google, Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc.
META,
+1.70%,
Twitter Inc.
TWTR,
+0.73%,
Pinterest Inc.
PINS,
+2.49%
and others in the grip of inflation, a war in Ukraine, supply-chain woes and a potential recession.

For more: Twitter has more to worry about than Elon Musk, as doubts about online-ad industry multiply

Snap reported a second-quarter net loss of $422.1 million, or 26 cents a share, compared with a loss of $151.7 million, or 10 cents a share a year ago. Snap’s adjusted net loss was 2 cents a share, besting Street predictions of a loss of 21 cents a share, according to analysts polled by FactSet. Snap’s sales, which increased 13% to $1.11 billion, fell short of Street estimates of $1.14 billion. Daily active users rose 18% to 347 million. FactSet analysts had modeled 344.1 million.

Executives declined to provide third-quarter guidance, citing “uncertainties related to the operating environment.”

Snap shares initially fell more than 25% in after-hours trading. They closed the regular trading session up 5.5% to $16.37.

Snap’s desultory results dragged down its social-media peers in extended trading Thursday. Shares of beleaguered Pinterest sank 7%, Meta fell 5%, Google was down 3% and Twitter dipped 2%.

Withering macroeconomic conditions have prompted advertisers to slam on the brakes, while intensifying competition from the likes of TikTok and others has deepened the “headwinds,” Snap Chief Financial Officer Derek Anderson said during an abbreviated conference call with analysts following the results.

A letter to investors was much blunter: “The second quarter of 2022 proved more challenging than we expected… We are not satisfied with the results we are delivering, regardless of the current headwinds.”

“Platform policy changes [a reference to mobile iOS privacy changes made by Apple Inc.
AAPL,
+2.14%
that make it harder for advertisers to collect consumer data] have upended more than a decade of advertising industry standards, and macroeconomic challenges have disrupted many of the industry segments that have been most critical to the growing demand for our advertising solutions. We are also seeing increasing competition for advertising dollars that are now growing more slowly. Our revenue growth has substantially slowed, and we are evolving our business and strategy to adapt. We are working to reaccelerate growth and take share, but we believe it will likely take some time before we see significant improvements,” the letter continued.

The letter, which also announced plans for an unusual stock split if Snap shares hit $40 in the next 10 years, warned of a “substantial” slowdown in hiring and further cost cuts.

Read more: Snap’s stock price rises more than 8% ahead of second-quarter earnings

“We also intend to recalibrate our investment levels to build a path to free cash flow break-even or better, even with reduced rates of revenue growth,” executives wrote. “We will continue to invest with a long-term perspective, especially in areas that are critical to realizing the long-term opportunity of augmented reality, but we are taking a hard look at how to better drive productivity across our teams. This will include a substantially reduced rate of hiring and a strict reprioritization of goals and initiatives across the company.”

“Snap is also still reeling from the impact of Apple’s privacy changes, which have disproportionately impacted performance advertisers, creating a one-two punch to its entire ad business.  Snap is a small player in the digital ad market, accounting for under 1% of worldwide digital ad revenues per our 2022 forecast, which also makes it more susceptible to the challenges than larger players like Meta,” Insider Intelligence analyst Jasmine Enberg told MarketWatch. “In any economic downturn, the smaller advertising players are more adversely affected.”

In a note last week, Cowen analyst John Blackledge warned Snap is “challenged by various macro headwinds and an outsized 2Q21 comp.”

Shares of Snap have nosedived 65% this year, while the S&P 500 index
SPX,
+1.73%
is down 16%.

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