How Snapchat Became The Best-Performing Tech Stock In 2019

Topline: After its stock market debut two years ago floundered, Snapchat has made a strong comeback: Its shares have risen nearly 200% in 2019, outpacing the broader market and easily eclipsing the rest of its peers in the technology sector.

  • Now valued near $23.5 billion, Snapchat sits at $17 per share, up from a $7.2 billion valuation and an all-time low of $4.99 per share last December, according to Bloomberg data.
  • Snapchat’s stock has eclipsed its peers in the tech sector this year: It is far and away the best performer in the iShares U.S. Technology ETF. While rival companies like Facebook and Pinterest are up 40% and 23%, respectively, they can’t compare with the triple-digit growth in Snap’s share price.
  • Strong earnings in recent quarters (with fewer losses than Wall Street had expected), new revenue opportunities and improved profitability have all helped drive Snap shares higher this year.
  • After being written off two years ago, the social media company’s user base and engagement is finally growing again. When Snap had its IPO in March 2017, valued at $31 billion, it hoped to become the next Facebook. But the app never really caught on with the masses—instead, it appealed mostly to younger users, as many adults and advertisers found it difficult to use.
  • Over the last year and a half, the company has transitioned to focus on its younger users again, exploring new revenue opportunities like Snap Games, which was rolled out in the spring. Some Wall Street analysts already predict that the new gaming business could be a big growth driver for Snapchat going forward. Evercore ISI analyst Kevin Rippey, for instance, sees it bringing in as much as $350 million in revenue each year by 2022.
  • Snap has ten “buy” ratings, 25 “hold” ratings, and 4 “sell” ratings from Wall Street analysts, according to Bloomberg data.

What to watch for: Third-quarter earnings, due in November, will be an important indicator. The company’s second-quarter earnings, released in July, saw revenue increase 48% year-over-year to $388 million.

Today In: Money

Surprising fact: Despite growth prospects, it’s still important to remember that Snapchat is losing money: Free cash flow dropped by 32% between the first and second quarter, the first such decline in a year.

Tangent: Since Snapchat stock started its comeback, CEO Evan Spiegel’s net worth has grown from just over $1.4 billion to $3.7 billion.

Critic: While Susquehanna Financial Group’s Shyam Patil remains optimistic about the company’s continued momentum in the short term, Patil highlights that the stock’s “valuation remains elevated,” compared to peers like Facebook and Twitter, and points out competition with Instagram as another potential downside risk, writing that “SNAP must hold onto the key 18-34 demographic to attract advertisers.

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I am a New York—based reporter for Forbes, covering breaking news—with a focus on financial topics. Previously, I’ve reported at Money Magazine, The Villager NYC, and The East Hampton Star. I graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2018, majoring in International Relations and Modern History. Follow me on Twitter @skleb1234 or email me at sklebnikov@forbes.com

Source: How Snapchat Became The Best-Performing Tech Stock In 2019

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