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    Wednesday, February 7, 2024

    Snap Tumbles as Ad Sales Lag Larger Rivals

    Snap slumped more than 31% on Wednesday after fourth-quarter revenue missed Wall Street expectations, with the company struggling to compete for advertising dollars against heavyweights such as Meta and Alphabet.

    The Snapchat owner's results are in contrast to strong advertising sales that rivals reported, a sign that advertisers are gravitating towards larger, stable companies amid an uncertain economy.

    Snap, whose shares nearly doubled last year, was on track to lose roughly $9 billion in market value, based on its share price of $11.98 on Wednesday, if premarket losses hold. Rival Pinterest also fell nearly 4%.

    "Once again, Snap's results have disappointed investors," said Jasmine Enberg, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, adding the company's rebound hasn't kept pace with the big tech titans.

    Meta's advertising sales surged 25% during the holiday quarter and Alphabet's Google ad business grew 11% as ad sales from YouTube increased 16% in the same period.

    "Coming so soon after the stellar Meta performance, a nagging worry about the way Snap is being run has turned into a crisis of confidence," Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.

    The company's fourth-quarter revenue came in at $1.36 billion, missing estimates of $1.38 billion, according to LSEG data.

    Snap said earlier this week it would lay off 10% of staff, or 528 employees, in order to "invest incrementally" in the company's growth over time.

    "While the layoffs show a company unafraid to lean out ... cost per employee remains well above peer benchmarks, while ad revenue growth remains well below," Bernstein analyst Mark Shmulik said.

    Snap's shares trade at 88.37 times expected earnings, compared with a forward PE of 22.71 for social media rival Meta and 29.47 for Pinterest.

    "Investor patience has been tested, and it's clear fewer are optimistic about Snap's ability to bounce back from the ad slump," Streeter said.

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