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Pinterest: Reasons to Buy and Reasons to Sell

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® and Jason Hall – Updated Nov 5, 2021 at 5:52PM

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There's an argument to be made for and against the social media stock.

Investors have certainly been disappointed by Pinterest's (PINS 0.96%) user growth -- or lack thereof -- in recent quarters, but there are also some key metrics that are trending in the right direction. In this Fool Live video clip, recorded on Oct. 21, Fool.com contributor Jason Hall gives investors a breakdown of where Pinterest's business stands and what to watch going forward. 

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Jason Hall: Pinterest is, of course, a social media business. That means it's an ad-based revenue model, which means that Pinterest users are actually the product and the customers are the companies that use it as an advertising platform. I think, in general, it's the social media platform everybody just tends to like and feel pleasurable about, because, you don't run into stuff like politics on it. You don't run into trolls that are anonymous, that might be attacking you or that sort of thing. It's a little easier and it's also tied into finding things to make your life a little bit better. There's a lot of really attractive, compelling things about it.

It's also already built into being a social commerce platform as well. Because it takes place at the early stages of some eventual transaction. People are looking to redecorate a room or maybe they want to build some outdoor furniture and they are looking for ideas. They want to do some painting and they are looking for ideas for that kind of thing. That's how it starts. I think that's part of what makes it so compelling to some of these companies that have been trying to buy it.

I'm going to show three tables from its most recent corporate presentation from its second-quarter earnings. Guys, can you see that? You see, business is really good on a global basis. Through the second quarter, revenue was up 125% on a global basis, it was up 107% in the U.S., 227% international growth. Again, that right there makes it really clear where there is massive opportunity for Pinterest to grow, is outside of the U.S. I'm going to come back to this one and I'm going to do this one first. Because this really again ties into the opportunity here. You think about average revenue per user. Sometimes you'll hear the acronym ARPU put out, so that's average revenue per user. Again, these numbers are growing at an enormous rate, it grew 89% globally, more than doubled in the U.S., up 163% internationally.

This is about monetization. This is about increasing what they can charge for ads, the ad premium, and also increasing the quantity of advertising it's able to do on its platform. You can see in the U.S., $5 average revenue per user versus $0.36 internationally. For a lot of reasons, it's unlikely that international ARPU will ever reach the same level in the U.S., at least not for many, many years to come. But there is enormous potential to continue to grow that.

I'm going to go back to this chart real quickly here. Monthly active users, because this is a little bit of the story of Pinterest stock price this year. It hasn't really performed that well, particularly from its high, it's still down more than 30% from its all-time high earlier this year. I happen to know the date of that, we'll talk about that later. But the key here is, look at this U.S. monthly active user. That number has actually fallen. It's actually fallen year-over-year. Internationally, it's up only 13%. Again, you look at where it was a year ago, nine months ago, six months ago, that metric is starting to trend a little bit lower. That's raised some concerns about its ability to continue to attract new users, particularly in the U.S. It's a little bit more niche than a lot of other social media. Is it close to being at a critical mass here in the U.S. and is that a concern? I guess that's the short version of where the business is.

Matthew Frankel, CFP® owns shares of Pinterest. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Pinterest. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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