Looming Snapchat earnings could show more trouble ahead

Posted at 3:22 PM, Oct 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-25 15:22:43-04

Snapchat is at a crossroads. Executives are jumping ship. Users are leaving amid stiff competition with Instagram. And its stock is in free fall. On Thursday, the company will show whether the worst is over.

Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, is scheduled to report its third quarter earnings results after the closing bell on Thursday. Wall Street isn’t expecting much.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect Snapchat’s daily active users to total 187.5 million for the period, essentially unchanged from the 188 million in the most recent quarter. If that user number falls, however, it would mean a damning trend for the company. In the second quarter, the app lost 3 million daily active users — its first ever decline as a public company.

The company is also expected to continue losing money. The consensus estimate is for Snap to report a loss of 14 cents per share and revenue of $283 million.

Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, continues to struggle with heightened competition from Instagram, which has copied many of its most popular features, such as disappearing photos and videos. It’s also still navigating backlash to its controversial app redesign. The new interface intended to attract more users amid slow audience growth and criticism the app was too confusing to use. Instead, it was panned by its core younger users.

In a recent memo to employees obtained by Cheddar, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel acknowledged the company “rushed our redesign, solving one problem but creating many others.”

“In our excitement to innovate and bring many new products into the world, we have lost the core of what made Snapchat the fastest way to communicate,” Spiegel added.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the memo.w

Snap has also seen an exodus of executives over the past year, including VP of Marketing Steve LaBella and Chief Strategy Officer Imran Khan. Other executives who exited this year include Chief Financial Officer Drew Vollero and VP of product Tom Conrad. The company also hasn’t had a chief operating officer since Emily White left the company in 2015.

But some analysts are striking a more upbeat tone.

“It is not too late for management to find ways to reverse recent usage trends and generally improve monetization regardless of those usage trends. With ongoing experimentation, we have some faith that they should be able to do both,” wrote Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research, in an investor note.

He also said Snap could become an attractive candidate to go private at its current stock price.