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Earnings Results: Snap stock plummets more than 25% as online advertising continues to struggle

A bruising year for Snap Inc.’s shares worsened Thursday, as the stock plummeted more than 25% in after-hours trading as executives launched the company’s first major share-repurchase program amid revenue issues in a poor environment for online advertising.

Snap
SNAP,
-0.64%

executives revealed that revenue increased less than 6% year-over-year in the third quarter — its slowest quarterly grow ever recorded — and said that the holiday season is shaping up similarly, with sales increasing just 9% so far in the quarter. The social-media company, which laid off roughly 20% of its staff this summer in response to the issues, also declined to provide a full forecast for the important fourth quarter.

“Our revenue growth continued to decelerate in Q3 and continues to be impacted by a number of factors we have noted throughout the past year, including platform policy changes, macroeconomic headwinds and increased competition,” executives said in a letter to shareholders outlining the results. “We are finding that our advertising partners across many industries are decreasing their marketing budgets, especially in the face of operating environment headwinds, inflation-driven cost pressures and rising costs of capital.”

“Forward-looking revenue visibility remains incredibly challenging, and this is compounded by the fact that revenue in Q4 is typically disproportionately generated in the back half of the quarter, which further reduces our visibility,” executives explained about the lack of guidance in the letter to investors.

The board did approve a $500 million share repurchase, a first for the young company. In a news release, executives said that the move was meant “to opportunistically offset a portion of the dilution related to the issuance of restricted stock units to employees as part of the overall compensation program designed to foster an ownership culture.” Snap is also in the midst of an augmented-reality push to diversify and expand sales.

During an abbreviated 30-minute conference call with analysts late Thursday, Snap Chief Executive Evan Spiegel was repeatedly pressed on how the company intends to get people to spend more time and money on the service. Spiegel emphasized the AR push and content engagement via Spotlight, a new tab in the Snapchat app that shows short-form video content, or “Spotlight Snaps.” 

Snap’s results — the first this quarter among the major tech companies who rely heavily on digital advertising — likely portend even more turbulent times ahead for Alphabet Inc.’s 
GOOGL,
+0.34%

 
GOOG,
+0.24%

Google, Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc. 
META,
-1.28%
,
 Twitter Inc. 
TWTR,
+1.18%
,
 Pinterest Inc. 
PINS,
-0.30%

and others in the grip of inflation, a war in Ukraine, foreign-exchange worries and a widening recession.

Snap’s desultory news sent shares tumbling in extended trading for Pinterest (-8%), Trade Desk Inc.
TTD,
+2.26%

(-5), Meta (-4%) and Google (-3%).

Deteriorating macroeconomic conditions have left advertisers with little choice but to delay or cancel buys. At the same time, intensifying competition from the likes of TikTok and others has deepened headwinds.

“As a smaller player, Snap is more susceptible, but no platform is immune,” Insider Intelligence analyst Jasmine Enberg told MarketWatch. “I expect more of the same results next week” when Google and Meta report, she added.

Snap reported a third-quarter net loss of $359.5 million, or 22 cents a share, compared with a loss of 5 cents a share a year ago. Analysts on average were expecting a loss of 24 cents a share.

Snap’s sales increased less than 6% to $1.13 billion, barely falling short of Street estimates of $1.14 billion. Daily active users rose 19% to 363 million. FactSet analysts had modeled 358.2 million.

Snap shares initially fell more than 25% in after-hours trading. They closed the regular trading session down 0.6% to $10.79. Shares of Snap have nosedived 77% this year, while the S&P 500 index 
SPX,
-0.80%

is down 23%.

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