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Snapchat Parent’s Shares Fall as Analysts Say It’s Ridiculously Overvalued

Shares of Snap fell 12% Monday on the Snapchat parent’s third day of public trading, after opening up 4%.

The pullback indicates profit-taking after investor gusto for Snap led to a huge run-up in the two days following its IPO on March 2. It also comes after Wall Street analysts warned that Snap shares are drastically overvalued, with none so far having issued a “buy” rating on the stock.

Snap shares were trading around $25.11 per share Monday at 11:15 a.m. ET, down from the Friday closing price of $27.09 but still up 46% from the IPO price. At $25 per share the Venice, Calif.-based company has a market cap of about $29 billion, making it worth more than CBS, Viacom, Dish Network and Twitter at that price. That’s despite Snap posting a $515 million loss for 2016, and no profit expected on the near horizon.

[UPDATE, 4:15 p.m. ET: Snap shares closed down 12.3% Monday, to $23.77 per share. That’s below the $24.48 closing price on the day of its IPO, but still well over the $17-per-share initial public offering price.]

Of seven analysts who have initiated coverage of Snap, five have a “sell” or equivalent rating and two have a “hold,” CNBC reported. CFRA Research also initiated coverage Monday with a “sell” opinion.

Snap’s stock is “like a lottery ticket,” Needham & Co. analyst Laura Martin wrote in a note to clients Monday, rating the stock “underperform.” The firm estimates Snap Inc.’s value at $19 to $23 per share.

While Martin noted that “sometimes lottery tickets do pay off,” she detailed a litany of risks, including that Snap has “no clear path to profitability before 2020.” She also estimated that Snap’s total address market in the 10 biggest ad markets is about 650 million — one-fifth the size of Facebook’s — because Snapchat targets a 13-34 demo and requires high-end devices. In addition, she noted that “fast follower” competitors (like Facebook’s Instagram) are copying its best ideas, and that Snap is controlled by its two founders, CEO Evan Spiegel and CTO Bobby Murphy (new shareholders have no voting rights).

“Academic literature suggests that the sexier and more glamorous a company’s IPO, the more likely it is to be overpriced at its IPO date and to suffer meaningful downwards earnings and valuation revisions in the first eight quarters after it goes public,” Martin wrote.

CFRA equity analyst Scott Kessler set a 12-month price target on the stock of $22 per share. “We see strong user engagement, but user growth that has decelerated,” he wrote. Kessler predicts Snap’s revenue gains will outpace rivals, but he said the company faces risks as it “transitions from more of niche product to a mass-media offering,” which will require it to “notably increase its size/scale.”

Last week, Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser initiated coverage of Snap with a “sell” rating, valuing the company at $10 per share based on financial estimates for 2017. “Investors in Snap will be exposed to an upstart facing aggressive competition from much larger companies, with a core user base that is not growing by much and which is only relatively elusive,” he wrote in a note.

Snap got a vote of confidence last Friday from NBCUniversal, which revealed that it had taken a $500 million stake in the disappearing-message and media company in the IPO. That helped lift Snap shares 11% for the day, after a 44% surge on Thursday.

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