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Snap plunges after missing on revenue and daily active users

  • Loss per share: 17 cents vs. 17 cents, adjusted, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimate
  • Revenue: $230.7 million vs. $244.5 million, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate
  • Snap also advised its next quarter year-over-year revenue growth rate will "decelerate substantially" compared to Q1.
Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel
Getty Images
Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel

Snap shares were down nearly 20 percent in premarket trading Wednesday after the company missed revenue estimates in its latest quarterly report.

Furthermore it looks like a rocky road ahead for the company, which said in prepared remarks its next quarter year-over-year revenue growth rate will "decelerate substantially" compared to this past quarter.

On Tuesday, the company said on a call with analysts most of the decrease would be due to lower ad prices. Snapchat ad prices (outside of its Story ads) already went down 65 percent year-over-year in the first quarter, mostly due to switching to an automated "programmatic" auction-based system instead of a direct sales method.

"With regards to pricing we are really focused on driving advertisers ROI (return on investment) and bringing more and more advertisers on our platform because when you have a lot more users, you have more choices to show the right ad to the right users," Snap chief strategy officer Imran Khan said on a call with analysts. "I think we're also a new platform so we want advertisers to learn our platform and win on our platform. And so fundamentally we are not focused on pricing right now we are focused on bringing more advertisers on the platform and helping them understand our platform."

Here's what Snap reported in its first-quarter earnings on Tuesday.

  • Loss per share: 17 cents vs. 17 cents, adjusted, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimate
  • Revenue: $230.7 million vs. $244.5 million, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate
  • Daily active users: 191 million vs. 194.2 million expected by a FactSet estimate
  • Average revenue per user (ARPU): $1.21 vs. $1.27, per a FactSet estimate

Many of its issues may stem from a controversial redesign, which has upset some core users.

The company said in November 2017 it planned to tweak Snapchat to make it easier for new people, especially older ones. However, changes have soured some longtime users on the platform. CEO Evan Spiegel said in prepared remarks its March DAUs dipped below its quarterly average, though it was still above Q4 numbers. He also said Snapchat has to work on getting users accustomed to the changes, especially among Android users.

"As we have mentioned on our past two earnings calls, a change this big to existing behavior comes with some disruption, especially given the high frequency of daily engagement of our community," Spiegel said.

Some users have started a Change.org petition to ask the company to revert back to the old version, while Snapchat power user Kylie Jenner tweeted in February she didn't open Snapchat anymore due to the tweaks. The stock to tumbled 8 percent after her comments. She has since returned to the platform.

And redesign problems have persisted. In late April, the company said it would test another version of its redesign, leading to shares plunging as much as 9.5 percent the day after the after-hours announcement. One of the new updates would move friend stories back on the same tab as publisher and celebrity content — which is what many users were asking for —but with clear delineations.

It's not all bad news for Snap. Spiegel said after the tweaks time spent on platform remained at more than 30 minutes per day, and user retention rates for older users have increased.

The advertising and businesses community also seems to be embracing some of the changes Snapchat has made. Khan said in prepared remarks advertising revenue hit $229 million during the first quarter, up 62 percent year over year. Chief financial officer Drew Vollero added sales growth continues to outpace cost growth.

(Disclosure: CNBC parent company NBCUniversal is an investor in Snap.)