On Thursday, analysts at Morgan Stanley cut their rating on shares of the photo and video sharing platform to underweight from equal weight, highlighting growing challenges facing SNAP’s monetization potential and user opportunity as drivers of the downgrade.
Morgan Stanley’s Brian Nowak lowered his price target on the Venice, Calif.-based company to $11 from $14, expecting shares to fall to nearly 14% over the next 12 months. After the recent Q3 sell-off at $12.76 per share, SNAP is now trading about 25% below its initial public offering (IPO) price of $17. (See also: Tencent Buys 10% Stake in Snap.)
Copying Snap’s Best Features
As SNAP reported disappointing financial results for the third straight quarter, Nowak sees myriad issues unlikely to improve in the near future. He remains skeptical over potential revenue from Snap’s “tap-based story product,” while warnings that a planned redesign of the app may not sit well with Millennials, SNAP’s core user base. The Morgan Stanley analyst highlighted Facebook Inc. (FB) and its Instagram platform as major threats to SNAP as they continue to copy its best features. Advertisers would still rather use Facebook-Instagram, which makes it difficult for Snapchat to command higher prices, according to Nowak.
“We are increasingly hearing from agencies that the ease of ad spending/targeting on one platform across Facebook and Instagram continues to pull in incremental new budgets ... and that it is a growing hindrance to materially spend on new, smaller players, such as Snap,” wrote the analyst.
On Wednesday, analysts at RBC Capital Markets, UBS and Stifel also bumped down their rating on SNAP. (See also: Facebook’s TBH Buy Is a Bet Against Snap: Cramer.)