It's time for one of last year's more volatile IPOs (initial public offerings) to step up to the plate. Snap Inc. (SNAP) will be reporting its second-quarter results on Tuesday, and there's a lot riding on what Snapchat's parent company will announce.
Analysts see revenue clocking in at $251.2 million for the period, 38.3% ahead of where it was a year earlier. Most companies would kill for that kind of top-line growth, but it will be Snap's weakest showing. Revenue growth has decelerated in six of the past seven quarters, and investors are bracing for another quarterly deficit.
Red ink would be the last of Snap's concerns at this point, as it's what the market's already expecting. Let's go over some of the things that can go wrong for the dot-com sophomore.
1. Earnings week has historically been hazardous
Let's just dive right into the bad news. Owning a piece of Snap as it reports fresh financials is not for the timid: Snap stock has moved following past results, and it's usually not pretty. Let's go over what the stock has done during the week Snap reports earnings in each of its first five quarters as a public company. Impressionable investors may want to shield their eyes through the next few bullet points:
- Q1 2017: down 17%
- Q2 2017: down 10%
- Q3 2017: down 18%
- Q4 2017: up 37%
- Q1 2018: down 24%
Snap stock has taken a double-digit percentage hit in all but one of its five earnings weeks since going public early last year; this is brutal. We're talking about an 80% chance at a 10% to 24% slide, historically speaking. The silver lining here is the brilliant 37% surge investors experienced two quarters ago.
2. Snap isn't a good judge of what its users want
One of the great things about running a social platform, in theory, is that you know your users. You have boatloads of data on what they're doing, and you can spot trends earlier than envious outsiders. Why, then, did Snap break out a wildly unpopular Snapchat redesign late last year, which it's been trying to recover from in 2018? Why did it just shutter its mobile payments platform? Why didn't more people buy Spectacles?
Snapchat had a record average of 191 million daily active users in the first quarter. Whether that figure moves higher, clocks in flat, or shows a net exodus, Snap's failures seem to be too many for a company that supposedly has its finger on the pulse of its youthful audience.
3. The winning quarter's traits are rare
The only time that Snap stock moved higher following a report was the only period in its brief but tumultuous public history that revenue growth actually accelerated. The chances of that happening on Tuesday are slim. Revenue rose 54% in the first quarter, and as we've already gone over, analysts are perched at 38% top-line growth this time around.
Things can also be worse. Analysts were forecasting revenue growth of 63% when Snap came in at 54% three months ago.
Next week doesn't have to go badly. Snap could continue to improve its monetization through direct-response ads and other initiatives. One brave analyst even upgraded the stock last week. However, until it truly bucks the negative trends, investors may want to wait for Snap to prove that it can do better than a big hit following all but one quarterly report.