Momo (MOMO 0.62%) is off to another strong start in 2018, but keeping things that way was easier said than done last year. Shares of the Chinese social video specialist rose 14.1% last week after the company posted better-than-expected financial results, a long overdue sequential increase in premium subscribers for its live video service, and robust guidance for the current quarter. A pair of analysts raised their price targets following the strong report.
Momo's revenue climbed 57% in the fourth quarter, ahead of Wall Street forecasts and the 50% to 56% growth that Momo itself was targeting three months earlier. Adjusted earnings rose 20%, but analysts were bracing for a flattish bottom-line showing.
Sticking its landing in 2018
Momo is one of this young year's early winners, up a hearty 53% so far in 2018. Investors with a keen sense of recent history know we've been here before. Momo's 2017 was a tale of two halves, as the stock skyrocketed 139% in the first half of the year only to plummet 44% in the latter half.
Of course, the script was flipped in 2016, when the stock posted a double-digit percentage decline through the first half of the year before bouncing back sharply in the second half. However, this only illustrates that the real challenge for Momo is keeping the positive momentum going.
Analysts like what they see. Karen Chan at Jefferies raised her price target from $45 to $48 following the strong quarter and guidance. The $387 million to $402 million range that Momo is now targeting for the first quarter is 46% to 52% ahead of the prior year. Analysts were settling for just a 32% growth spurt on the top line. The recovery in paying users for its flagship live video service -- rising sequentially for the first time in nearly a year -- is also comforting news to Chan. She also sees upside in Momo's audio-based social live features.
Eileen Deng at Deutsche Bank also lifted her price goal by $3, going from $43 to $46. She's also encouraged by the surprisingly strong guidance for the current quarter and the improving migration to premium users across all Momo's offerings. Like Chan, Deng is sticking to her bullish buy rating on the stock.
Momo's growth may be decelerating, but its ecosystem is showing signs of life. There are now 99.1 million monthly active users on its platform, and as long as that keeps growing, with revenue growing even faster, it's hard to see Momo losing momentum this time around.