Leave it to Snap Inc. (NYSE:SNAP) to save its best for a week when the market was at its worst. Shares of Snapchat's parent company soared 37.1% last week, after Snap announced its first well-received quarterly report as a public company. Snap stock had suffered double-digit percentage hits after the company posted its first three earnings reports last year, but Snap finally broke through with a win the fourth time around. 

Snap delivered a monster quarter. Revenue growth accelerated for the first time as a public company, soaring 72% to hit $285.7 million. Snap's adjusted loss narrowed to $0.13 a share. Analysts were targeting only a 53% top-line increase and bracing for a deficit of $0.16 a share. Armed with fresh ammo for the bulls in the form of improving growth and retention, Snap has gone from closing out last year as a broken IPO to being one of this young year's biggest winners. 

Snapchat's custom filters in action.

Image source: Snap, Inc.

There's an app for that

Snapchat gained 8.9 million daily active users during the final three months of 2017, its largest haul as a public company. Snap credits the gains to a platform redesign that kicked in late in the quarter as well as performance upgrades for its Android app. The new platform made Snapchat more intuitive, and paying attention to its long-neglected Android mobile app is paying off with a 20% increase in retention for new users. 

Snapchat is still falling behind Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) Instagram Stories in terms of audience size, but this has never been a "winner takes all" battle. Snap's social hub is now 187 million daily active users strong, and that's an audience that marketers hungry to reach millennials can't ignore. Snapchat's ad revenue continues to grow faster than its user base, and Snap is getting aggressive in wooing marketers. Recode is reporting that Snap is offering hundreds of dollars in free advertising credits to advertisers that are buying vertical video ads on Facebook's Instagram.

No one is going to confuse Snap with market darling Facebook, but the early scorecard for investors in 2018 shows Snap in the lead. Snap is one of this year's top gainers, and Facebook's year-to-date stock performance flipped to negative last week. 

At least six analysts upgraded Snap following the head-turning report, and even more Wall Street firms jacked up their price targets. Snap was often lampooned as one of last year's IPO duds, but with revenue and usage accelerating and the dot-com speedster making headway to eventual profitability, it's the one getting the last laugh now.

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