October 26, 2018 / 12:18 PM / in 23 days

Snap shares sink as two million users move on

(Reuters) - Snap Inc (SNAP.N) shares plunged 14 percent on Friday after the Snapchat-owner posted its second straight quarter of user losses and forecast further declines, a boost for Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) Instagram ahead of its results next week.

FILE PHOTO - A man takes a photograph of the front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) with a Snap Inc. logo hung on the front of it shortly before the company's IPO in New York, U.S., March 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

At least four Wall Street analysts cut their price target as Snap’s much-criticized app redesign continued to weigh on daily active user numbers (DAU), particularly in Europe and the U.S.

A revelation for teenage users and twenty-somethings worldwide when its vanishing-post model was first launched in 2011, Snap’s user growth has stalled in the past two years as Instagram mimicked its best features.

Its 186 million users in the third quarter compares to the Facebook-owned app’s more than 1 billion.

JP Morgan and RBC Capital Markets cut their targets for Snap stock by half.

“We believe that Instagram is much more penetrated in these demographics, and it will be challenging for Snap to pull users away from Instagram,” JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth wrote in a note.

Shares of the company were down 12.2 percent at $6.14 in trading before the bell.

A redesign at the start of this year aimed at rebooting the app spurred a backlash led by celebrity users including Kylie Jenner, who threatened to boycott the photo-messaging app.

“Some users may be leaving the platform because it has lost its novelty, which would prove to be a bigger long-term concern,” Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser said.

Snap’s DAUs have now declined by five million since the first quarter, which the company blamed mainly on the Android app rollout.

With the company anticipating further declines, Jefferies analyst Brent Thill fears these losses could spill over to 2019.

Snap shares have fallen more than 50 percent this year, while Facebook’s, hurt by the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, have lost about 14 percent.

Of the 36 analysts covering the stock, 16 now rate it “hold” and 13 rate it “sell” or lower. The median price target on the stock is $10, down 15 percent from a month ago.

Analysts have said the number of advertisers active on Snapchat, though small, have been steadily growing. However, the social media app is still at the mercy of its user count.

“While monetization trends in Q3 are promising, we don’t think the stock can recover until the user base is growing solidly again,” Canaccord Genuity’s Michael Graham said.

Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham

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