The upgrades keep coming for Snap (SNAP -7.38%). RBC Capital analyst Mark Mahaney boosted his rating on Snapchat's parent company from "sector perform" to "outperform" on Friday, lifting his price target from $10 to $17.
If Mahaney's new target seems familiar, it's because that's the price Snap went public at two years ago. The social camera specialist has been waffling below its debut price for most of its brief publicly traded life, but getting back to the starting line is starting to become surprisingly feasible. Let's go over some of the reasons a stock that began the year in the mid-single digits is now expected to climb its way up to the high teens.
1. Momentum is on its side
This year has been everything last year wasn't for Snap investors. The stock has more than doubled this year, a sharp reversal from last year's 62% plunge. Sentiment is rolling in its favor, and if soaring 115% through the first three months and change of 2019 is the new normal, can a 44% gain from here -- which is what it would take to hit $17 -- be that outlandish?
Snap stock is hot, and analysts are hopping aboard. But hot stocks go cold and cold stocks go hot, and there are no guarantees the rally will continue. Still, it's hard to bet against one of this year's hottest names when it's moving higher.
2. The fundamentals are improving
Mahaney sees things turning around at Snap. He thinks improvements to Snapchat's Android app, a big reason for the stock's downturn and lull in user growth last year, are starting to gain traction. Manahey sees the valuation as more attractive than it was in 2017, when the stock initially rolled out.
Snapchat's audience has held steady in recent quarters, but milking more money out of its 186 million active users is the key to wooing growth investors. Revenue soared 36% in its latest quarter, an impressive feat given its stagnant user levels.
3. There are new catalysts for future growth
Snap hosted its first Partner Summit last week, giving folks a glimpse into the new initiatives that could drive growth higher in the months and years to come. Snap Games, a new gaming platform launching right from the Snapchat Chat bar, garnered the most headlines, but Snap also talked up new augmented-reality features, developer tools, and more original content.
Snap has a lot of revenue streams to paddle, and things can get even better if the platform's popularity begins growing again. Investors and advertisers are seeing the value in Snapchat users. The moment Snapchat users feel as confident about the platform as analysts and marketers do -- enough to begin drawing in their family members and friends to the meandering platform -- getting back to its 2017 IPO price could be just the beginning.