Snap swings to quarterly net loss, expects lower Q1 rev; shares fall

A woman photographs a banner for Snap Inc. on the facade of the New York Stock Exchange
A woman photographs a banner for Snap Inc. on the facade of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the morning of the company's IPO in New York City, NY, U.S. March 2, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Jan 31 (Reuters) - Snap Inc (SNAP.N) on Tuesday said current quarter revenue could decline by as much as 10%, sending its shares down 14% as the company struggles with weak advertising demand.

The owner of photo messaging app Snapchat is the first of the major digital advertising platforms to report fourth-quarter results, which provides an early clue for platforms like Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) and Alphabet's Google (GOOGL.O) when they report results later this week.

Meta shares fell 2% and Alphabet dropped 1%. Pinterest (PINS.N) dropped 5%.

In a letter to investors, Snap said a weakening economy, increased competition from other social media platforms and "platform policy changes" continued to hurt its business in the fourth quarter.

Apple began rolling out privacy changes on iPhones in 2021 that have limited advertisers' ability to collect data for targeted advertising.

Snap Chief Executive Evan Spiegel said during a conference call with analysts that the company is working to improve its ability to measure and boost the effectiveness of its ads, but it would take time for the investments to translate into higher revenue.

Reuters Graphics


"We expect the headwinds we have faced over the past year to persist throughout Q1," the company said in a letter to investors.

Revenue for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 was $1.3 billion, flat from the prior-year and in line with analyst expectations.

Snap's net loss was $288 million during the quarter, versus net income of $23 million the previous year. It reported adjusted earnings per share of 14 cents, beating Wall Street estimates of 11 cents.

Snap will host an investor day on Feb. 16 to detail its plan to move forward after announcing in August that it would lay off 20% of its staff and discontinue experimental projects like a drone camera to cut costs.

The tech sector has been hammered in recent months amid record-high inflation and expectations of a recession.

Shares of the Santa Monica, California-based company are down 65% over the past year.

It said it now has more than 2 million subscribers to its premium product Snapchat+, which Snap launched last year in an effort to develop a new revenue source.

Spiegel said Tuesday he was "very excited about the opportunity around generative (artificial intelligence)," which could help advance Snap's investments in augmented reality, or technology that overlays computerized images onto the real world.

Generative AI is a technology that generates text or images in response to a prompt, and has taken the tech industry by storm in recent months.

Daily active users on Snapchat rose 17% year-over-year to 375 million, beating analyst expectations of 374 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

In its letter to investors, the company said its internal forecast assumes a 2% to 10% revenue decline in the first quarter compared to a year ago, and said revenue is currently down 7% so far in the quarter.

Snap forecast daily active users in the first quarter between 382 million and 384 million.

Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Diane Craft

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.