Analysts can be passing ships sometimes, and we saw that on display when two Wall Street pros put out divergent opinions for Snap Inc. (NYSE:SNAP) on Tuesday. The day kicked off with Ross Sandler at Barclays upgrading the stock from Equal Weight to Overweight, jacking up his price target from $11 to $18. Snapchat's parent company rallied on the news, but then Anthony DiClemente at Evercore ISI initiated coverage with an Underweight rating and a price goal of just $7.
sandler feels that next year could be the turning point for Snapchat. The long overdue app redesign should help, and he doesn't see why Snapchat can't co-exist with Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Facebook's Instagram, with both companies thriving. DiClemente naturally doesn't see it that way, concerned that bullish analysts are being unrealistic with their revenue models given the way that Instagram is gaining in popularity at Snapchat's expense.
Snap is a heavily contested tech stock, and there are going to be dissenting opinions on the volatile debutante. The social platform operator has had a wild rookie season since going public at $17 nine months ago. Snap stock nearly hit $30 on its second day of trading, falling to the pre-teens this summer. It's technically a busted IPO at the moment -- trading in the low teens -- but momentum appears to be building, with the stock higher in three of the past four months and rising so far in December.
The naysayers are still there. Short interest shot up to 122.7 million as of mid-November, nearly a third of the stock's public float. Sandler at Barclays sees that as a good thing, opening up the possibility for a short squeeze since so many of the shares are in the hands of founders. However, the bearish DiClemente feels that staying away is the right approach since profitability could prove challenging given Snapchat's reliance on third parties to provide premium content.
No matter where you stand, it's clear that there's a lot riding on the Snapchat app redesign, including a new dynamic Friends page and the bold move to separate social from media feeds. Snap had to do something. The dot-com speedster is still growing -- revenue soared 62% in its latest quarter -- but the market's walking away unimpressed. The stock has taken double-digit percentage hits following each of its first three financial reports as a public company.
Snap isn't Facebook, but it doesn't have to be. The freshly bullish Sandler feels that next year's revenue targets will prove conservative, contrasting DiClemente's read on what lies ahead in 2018. Different opinions are fine, and given Snap's volatility it wouldn't be a surprise if Snap proves them both right by hitting $7 and $18 next year.