The highly anticipated Snap, Inc. (NYSE:SNAP) IPO finally rolled out last week, and Snapchat's parent company more than lived up to the hype. Underwriters priced the offering at $17 on Wednesday night. Snap stock opened at $24 shortly after Thursday's market open, closing out its first day of trading at $24.48 -- a modest intraday gain against the whirlwind of speculative volatility.
What happened Friday was even more impressive. There was no shortage of bearish press ahead of the IPO. Many analysts and financial journalists had written that even at its most recent expected price range of $14 to $16, the deficit-saddled Snap was too expensive. If Snap with a market cap of less than $20 billion was overvalued, how would the market feel after Thursday's close with the company's market value pushing $30 billion?
Atlantic Equities analyst James Cordwell would downgrade Snap stock from "neutral" to "underweight." The stock was trading above his $14 price target, and he thought the current market valuation would be unsustainable until it can effectively monetize its growing platform.
Wall Street pros who initiated coverage of the stock once it began trading on Thursday were largely neutral or bearish. Nomura went with a "reduce" rating and a $16 price target. Both Aegis and Susquehanna went with neutral ratings and $22 price targets, but the stock weas already comfortable above that mark by Thursday's close. Would the stock slip a little on Friday or tank a lot? Well, shares of Snap rose another 11% to top $27 by Friday's close. Snap was trading for all of two days last week, and it was already scaling the wall with ease.
Snap into action
Bashing Snap's stock has become an easy sport. My bullish piece a week before the IPO -- pointing out the reasons to buy Snap, Inc. -- was an outlier in the commentary stream. Snapchat's parent company would resonate with retail investors who are either fine with or oblivious to the seemingly lofty valuation.
Robinhood -- the millennials-minded brokerage platform with a million accounts -- was loaded with the bullish sentiment that wasn't being voiced in the financial media. A whopping 43% of the people who traded on Robinhood on Thursday bought shares of Snap.
Snapchat is popular. There are 158 million daily active users, and they most certainly live up to the active part of the billing. More than 2.5 billion short videos and images -- or Snaps -- are posted on a typical day. Monetization is just getting started as Snap begins to offer online advertising and break into merchandise, as it did late last year with the $130 video-recording Spectacles glasses.
Snap is losing money and has just $404.5 million in trailing revenue, and that's not a good look for a company with a market cap of more than $30 billion. However, the market didn't expect young investors with Snapchat accounts to overpower the more critical investors without Snapchat accounts. Advertisers want to reach Snapchat users, and Snap, Inc. will figure out a way to make that happen. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Snap, Inc. retreat in the week ahead, but the real battle will take several years to play itself out.