UBS downgrades Snap after earnings, says rising competition will keep pressure on stock

Snap may have trouble keeping up with ever-rising competition going forward, according to UBS. Analyst Lloyd Walmsley downgraded the social media company to neutral from buy. He also reiterated a price target of $10, which implies downside of 13.5% from Tuesday’s close, and trimmed his 2023 revenue outlook on Snap. “We see increasing competition everywhere,” analyst Lloyd Walmsley wrote in a client note on Wednesday. “While the focus has been on TikTok, Meta is ramping Reels monetization (feedback has been +) and YouTube is scaling Shorts (atop Google’s ad platform). Given the magnitude of competition and Snap’s relatively subscale nature, we see risk to revenue acceleration. We roll our PT to ’24 EV/revenue (from ’23 prev) and trim our multiples to 3x (from 4x previous) reflecting slower growth.” Walmsley’s downgrade comes after Snap reported its fourth-quarter results. Earnings came in slightly above a Refinitiv consensus estimate, but revenue was lighter than expected. Global daily active users and average revenue per user — two key metrics for the company — were also below estimate. Snap shares tumbled more than 15% in the premarket on the back of those results. In a letter to investors, Snap also called 2022 a “challenging year” that was marked by “macroeconomic headwinds, platform policy changes, and increased competition,” as a slowing economy led businesses to slash their digital ad budgets and Apple’s iOS privacy update limited targeting capabilities. Other analysts also grew more cautious on the stock after Snap’s latest quarterly report. Goldman Sachs lowered its price target on the stock to $8 per share from $10. The new target implies downside of 30.8% from Tuesday’s close. “Snap’s Q4’22 earnings report was broadly negative on a mixture of disappointing revenue trends in North America as the company faces a series of headwinds from macro conditions, a tight brand advertising budget environment and a transition with respect to its direct response advertising business that remains in progress and is causing sustained revenue headwinds into Q1,” wrote analyst Eric Sheridan, who has a neutral rating on Snap. JPMorgan’s Doug Anmuth, meanwhile, reiterated his underweight rating on Snap, noting: “The company continues to be impacted by the broader industry pressures of weak macro, platform privacy changes, & increasing competition. … However, we believe Snap-specific issues also weigh on near-term Revenue, notably the continued decline in engagement in Friend Stories & DR ad improvements that will be disruptive to advertisers & overall Revenue.” Brian Nowak of Morgan Stanley, who has an underweight rating on the stock, also pointed out that, while competition has intensified from other social media platforms, Snap has been “unsuccessful” in their pivot towards direct response. –CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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