Most of the analyst commentary on Snap stock since the initial public offering had been bearish, as only two of the initiation reports in the early weeks of trading came with Buy ratings, but now the blackout period for the underwriters is over. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the bulls are running along the top of that so-called “Chinese wall,” carrying a flood of positive analysis for Snap stock on their shoulders. Investors appear to be eating it up.
Snap stock a “venture stage investment”
Goldman Sachs analyst Heath Terry initiated coverage of Snap stock with a Buy rating and $27 price target. He describes the Snapchat parent company as “venture stage investing in premium creative platform.” He explained that the recent trend among Internet companies over the last few years is to wait for “later stages of growth and profitability” before filing for their IPO. While he admits that buying into a firm that’s in the venture capital stage comes with more risk than buying into one that’s in later stages of growth, in Snap’s case, he feels that the potential reward is greater than the risk.
The company has 158 million daily active users who visit the site 18 times every day for a total of 30 minutes. While the initial reviewers of Snap expressed concern about the deceleration in daily active user growth, Terry said comScore data suggests that this metric reaccelerated in the fourth quarter when monthly active users grew 18 million compared to 12 million in the third quarter. This is a particularly interesting point as other analysts noted that the timing of Snap’s deceleration in user growth was in line with Facebook’s launch of products like Instagram Stories, which looks like a clone of Snapchat.
Snap’s growth will continue
Jefferies analyst Brian Fitzgerald initiate coverage of Snap stock with a Buy rating and $30 price target and said he doesn’t feel the company’s growth will disappear like the photos posted on Snapchat do. He feels that advertisers will “clamor to serve ads to its large audience of deeply-engaged users, many of whom are in the attractive millennial demographic and are located in high-value ad markets.”
He notes that the average revenue per user for the company’s much bigger competitor Facebook is about nine times higher ($23.77 versus Snap’s $2.70), but he expects Snap’s average revenue per user to grow sharply and narrow that large gap. He feels that ARPU is Snap’s main growth lever and its most likely source of upside to estimates.
Fitzgerald also points out that the company’s strategy is an asset-light one because it outsources its infrastructure costs to Google and Amazon. As a result, it should be able to scale its platform without any big capital expenditures, a recent area of contention between Facebook and investors.
Snap is a top “innovation machine”
RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney initiated coverage of Snap stock with an Outperform rating and $31 price target. He bills the Snapchat parent as “an innovation leader” in mobile for both advertisers and consumers. He even goes so far as to describe Snap as “one of the best innovation machines on the ‘net today.”
Indeed, the company does deserve some credit for innovation, as some of its ideas have been so good that Facebook decided to clone them, adding its own small spin on products that otherwise look like Snapchat copies. Mahaney describes Snap’s innovation as “extremely impressive” and sees “substantial growth opportunities” in its current daily active user base and low ARPU. He also offered up Facebook and Twitter as examples of how Snap should be able to scale its profitability.
William Blair analyst Ralp Schackart initiated coverage of Snap stock with an Outperform rating, also highlighting the young age of Snapchat’s user base as a huge strength because advertisers struggle to reach this age cohort. More than half of Snapchat’s users are between the ages of 13 and 24.
Other initiations of Snap stock
Not every new analyst report on Snap stock this morning was fully bullish, as Stifel analyst Scott Devitt initiated coverage of Snap stock with a Hold rating and $24 price target. He sees a long monetization runway, but he feels that the current share price already reflects his level of optimism in the company’s long-term growth opportunities.
He would become more constructive on the stock if it were to fall closer to $20 per share, although it doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon, as investors are boosting shares thanks to this morning’s flood of positive analyst coverage. Devitt would also see a better risk/ reward profile for Snap stock if the company “materially” beats consensus estimates in its first quarter earnings report.
Shares of Snap stock surged by as much as 3.34% to $23.55 during regular trading hours on Monday.