Snapchat Users Climb 17% in Q2, Snap Stock Falls as Investors Hoped for Bigger Lift

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel
Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Snapchat boosted its daily active user rolls with a hefty gain of 9 million in the second quarter of 2020, as the company grew revenue 17% year over year to beat analyst expectations on the top line.

But investors had been expecting a bigger coronavirus-fueled lift from still-unprofitable Snap, which again — citing the pandemic — did not provide detailed financial guidance for the current quarter. Shares of Snap fell more than 6% in after-hours trading, after closing down 2.1% in the regular session.

For Q2, Snap reported an average of 238 million daily active users up 17% year-over-year and a net gain of 9 million for the period (under Snap’s earlier estimate of 10 million). That came after it netted 11 million in Q1. CEO Evan Spiegel told analysts Snapchat now reaches more than 100 million people in the U.S. alone on a monthly basis.

Snap foresees slower user growth for Q3, with a model that assumes daily active users will be between 242 million and 244 million in the current quarter.

The company touted growth on its original entertainment strategy, reporting the daily average number of users watching Snapchat Shows in the app increased by more than 45% year-over-year in Q2. (Snap didn’t disclose what that daily viewership number was but said year-to-date originals have been viewed by more than 100 million people.) Snap called out digital sports media company Wave and lifestyle-content studio Barcroft Studios as both now reaching average monthly audiences of more than 50 million Snapchat users.

Snap’s original shows “continue to attract audiences that rival those of top TV series, and have reached more than 75% of the U.S. Gen Z population so far this year,” Spiegel said in the earnings call, citing as an example Will Smith’s “Will From Home,” which was watched by more than 35 million people (and culminated in a cast reunion of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”).

Snap’s second-quarter 2020 revenue increased 17% year-over-year to $454 million, while the company saw its net loss widen to $326 million (with an adjusted net loss of 9 cents per share) versus a net loss of $254 in the year-ago quarter.

Wall Street analysts consensus estimates for Snap’s Q2 were for revenue of $438.1 million and a net loss of 9 cents per share. The company hadn’t provided financial guidance for the quarter citing “uncertainties related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” It’s not providing Q3 guidance for the same reason.

“We continued to grow our community and business in a challenging and uncertain environment,” Spiegel said in prepared remarks. “I am proud of our team for innovating on new experiences for our community and driving value for our partners, demonstrating the importance of our service in people’s lives. We are grateful that the resilience of our business has allowed us to remain focused on our future growth and opportunity.”

Snap said daily active users increased both sequentially and on an annual basis in each of its geographic segments: North America (+9% year over year), Europe (+12% YoY), and Rest of World (+37%).

Even as Snap was able to grow its top line, “the operating environment has remained challenging as COVID-19 continues to impact macroeconomic conditions, and the businesses of our advertising clients,” CFO Derek Anderson said. He added that advertisers that have been particularly hard-hit have been those that rely on “in-person interaction,” such as restaurants, entertainment venues, physical retailers and hospitality providers.

As for what the current advertiser boycott of Facebook means for Snap, chief business officer Jeremi Gorman said the situation has given Snap the opportunity to to tell its “brand-safe” message to Madison Avenue.

“It is difficult to ascertain exactly what the impact of the Facebook boycott is on revenue at this time,” Gorman replied, suggesting that some marketers’ suspension of ad spending “could also be related to overall content marketing budgets, just given the environment.” But, she added, “What we do know is that it’s always positive to engage at the highest levels of an organization, and this conversation has opened the door for us to do that extremely frequently at the CEO and CMO level.”

While Snap didn’t provide Q3 guidance, Anderson said that in the quarter through July 19 the company estimates year-over-year revenue growth was 32%. But he warned that “operating conditions may remain volatile” and that “economic conditions could further deteriorate.”

Advertising demand in Q3 “has historically been bolstered by factors that appear unlikely to materialize in the same way they have in prior years,” Anderson said on the call, citing back-to-school shopping, summer studio film releases, and sports leagues. Snap’s internal investment plan is based on revenue growth of approximately 20%, he said.

Asked on the call about the U.S. evaluating a potential TikTok ban, Spiegel said “it’s been really interesting to watch the United States government grapple with huge success of a consumer-technology company that is headquartered in China.”

Spiegel continued, “I think that really brings us to more of like a free-markets question, as these businesses are able to leverage the massive billion-plus consumer base and obviously second-largest economy in the world and China and leverage their success there to enter the United States market, which is a smaller market in terms of people. So it’s been really fascinating to see the government grapple with this, obviously the national security concerns notwithstanding.”