Business / #ForbesBusiness

February 21, 2018,   10:41 AM

Snap's Analyst Rating Slips After Over 1.2 Million Users Protest Update

Carla Sertin


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Citigroup analysts reportedly downgraded Snap Inc. from “neutral” to “sell” after more than 1.2 million Snapchat users signed a petition against a wildly unpopular recent app update. It presented a target price of $14 for the stock. This comes two weeks after Snap Inc. released its fourth quarter earnings, which beat Wall Street expectations.

“While the recent redesign of its flagship app could produce positive long-term benefits, the significant jump in negative app reviews since the redesign was pushed out a few weeks could result in a decline in users and user engagement, which could negatively impact financial results,” Citigroup analysts Mark May and Hao Yan wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday.

This follows Raymond James’ decision to downgrade Snap to “underperform” in mid-January, with analyst Aaron Kessler reportedly noting that “historically, chat/messaging apps have been difficult to monetize,” in a note to clients.

Snap’s app redesign is an attempt to increase revenue through sponsored content—it is meant to separate paid content from friends’ posts, but its detractors say it’s more difficult to quickly find friends’ stories.

Despite the social media uproar and falling rankings on the App Store and Google Play, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel reportedly defended the redesign at the Goldman Sachs Internet and Technology Conference, saying that “it’ll take time for people to adjust.”

The redesign also makes analytics available to influencers, and weeks ago Snap launched an e-commerce platform and an advertising API which would allow advertisers to create ad programs without going through Snapchat’s sales services.

But the redesign is not the only reason for the rating change—Citi also noted that Snap’s EBITDA loss (which measures a company’s ability to create income on its operations) and negative free cash flow worsened year over year despite 72% year over year revenue growth. Citi also expects Snap Inc. to burn through $3 billion before breaking even.

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