After disastrous first report, Wall Street is increasingly worried 'Facebook is crushing Snapchat'

Key Points
  • Users added last quarter "were not strong enough to disprove the 'Facebook Is crushing Snapchat' thesis, which we think persists for a while," wrote Barclays' Ross Sandler.
  • Most other analysts on Wall Street cited the fierce competition from Facebook clearly hurting user growth.
  • Shares of Snap opened more than 20 percent lower on Thursday.
Snap's billion dollar number is 'haunting them': Cramer
Snap's billion dollar number is 'haunting them': Cramer

Most of Wall Street took a very cautious stance on Snap as shares of the social network took a beating Thursday after the company's first-quarter results missed estimates across the board.

Even after a drop of more than 20 percent that normally would bring out the value buyers on Wall Street, Snap's ratings list looks decidedly bearish for what's supposed to be a hot new social media stock.

Seventeen percent of analysts still say the name is a sell and 47 percent say it's still just merely a hold, according to FactSet, a rare lukewarm majority on Wall Street after the big morning decline. There's still 36 percent of analysts who call it a buy, according to FactSet.

There were some exceptions. Smaller firms Oppenheimer and Cantor Fitzgerald upgraded the stock but the Cantor move was just from underweight to neutral. Also, two underwriter firms for Snap's IPO, Goldman and Credit Suisse, defended the company as unique and misunderstood.

Most of the notes, however, centered on competition from Facebook taking away Snap's uniqueness.

Barclays' Ross Sandler wrote that the users added last quarter by Snap "were not strong enough to disprove the 'Facebook Is crushing Snapchat' thesis, which we think persists for a while."

Nomura Instinet's Anthony DiClemente reiterated his reduce rating on the stock and lowered his price target to $14 from $16, citing "fierce competition" from Facebook.

Check out a wrap of some of the Wall Street opinions from Wednesday night and Thursday morning, including DiClemente and Sandler:

Ross Sandler, Barclays, rating: equal weight, price target: $18

The 7m DAU net-adds were not strong enough to disprove the "Facebook Is crushing Snapchat" thesis, which we think persists for a while. The problem with such a print right out of the gate is that there is little near-term valuation support given the lack of profitability and massive lock up expiration around the corner (ala TWTR early 2014). We still like the long-term backdrop for snap's innovation and overall potential, and given the sharp pullback, we are getting more interested now [that] the market is starting to discount a lower bar for future execution.

Anthony DiClemente, Nomura Instinet, rating: reduce, price target: $14

It now faces incrementally fierce competition from deeper-pocketed rivals including FB, and continues to trade at a valuation that looks quite lofty to us, even considering yesterday's aftermarket selloff. Some had thought SNAP's initial quarters of monetization would follow more of a benign path given the potential for marketers to put experimental ad budgets to work on an app with a heavily engaged millennial user base, but YoY ad revenue/ARPU growth rates decelerated substantially once again, just as they did in the quarters leading up to the IPO. Revenue growth estimates will come down in our model, and as such, we maintain our Reduce rating and lower our Target Price to $14.

Justin Post, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, rating: neutral, price target: $23:

We are encouraged by early signs of a rebound in Android user growth and growing user time spent, and we think Snap will effectively monetize its user base over the long-run. However, deceleration of user growth, competitive concerns, volatility due to absence of Street expectations management, and lock-up expiration are overhangs that are likely to continue.

Mark May, Citi, rating: buy, price target: $24

We expect pressure on the stock to continue near term as the 1Q17 report did little to address investor concerns over the growth outlook for users. That being said, we remain encouraged by other engagement KPIs, with avg. time spent on Snapchat now over 30 minutes per day (vs. 25-30 minutes previously reported), snaps taken per day growing to 3bn (vs. >2.5bn previously reported), and avg. sessions per day rising in the quarter.

Jason Helfstein, Oppenheimer, rating: buy, price target: $23:

We are establishing a $23 target and upgrading SNAP to Outperform from Perform, after the stock fell 23% in after-hours trading to $17.68, only marginally above the $17 IPO price. … Gross profit and EBITDA were ahead partially on lower cloud costs. Products will continue to be made for universal use, not tailored toward on-boarding older users. Target assumes 16x/12x 2018-19E ad sales vs. FB trading at 8x/6x 2018-19E ad sales.

Lloyd Walmsley, Deutsche Bank, rating: buy, price target: $23

We continue to believe in the management team's ability to innovate on product and ultimately grow and monetize the user base. Given the rich valuation, the company needed to show faster DAU growth to better validate the long-term potential. While nothing in this quarter was thesis changing in our view, each quarter the company fails to surprise with faster DAU growth is likely to result in option value decay.

Brian Fitzgerald, Jefferies, rating: buy, price target: $30:

Engagement continues to increase on the platform with users on average spending 30+minutes/day. Expected seasonality in revenue led to a Q/Q decline in ARPU, but we expect Snap to buck that trend as it has opportunities to increase ad load as well as offer advertisers better targeting capability.

Kip Paulson, Cantor Fitzgerald, rating: neutral, price target: $17:

Although intense competition for users and digital brand dollars from entities such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter (particularly Facebook's Instagram) may continue, Snap still has a rich/engaging canvas for brand advertisers that are targeting the hard-to-reach, but highly desirable, 18-34 year-old demo, and valuation has improved post sell-off (relative to growth).

Heath Terry, Goldman Sachs, rating: buy, price target: $27

While SNAP remains a near venture stage investment with all of the risks that implies, we continue to believe its audience and engagement represent a unique asset that will benefit from growth and diversification of internet usage and advertiser adoption as both mature.

Stephen Ju, Credit Suisse, rating: outperform, price target: $30

We expect the positive aspects of SNAP's 1Q17 report (North America monetization, hosting cost leverage) to be overshadowed by the revenue and DAU miss, as this was certainly NOT in the script for its first report as a public company. And although we would certainly have preferred to have seen higher DAUs reported vs. our expectations and a higher reset to BOTH our revenue and Adj. EBITDA estimates, we settle for profit dollars for now, and our long-term investment thesis has not changed on the back of this report.

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Snap.