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| 22 August, 2017

Snap won't easily pull a Facebook-Google-Alibaba

The Snapchat messaging application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017.

The Snapchat messaging application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017.

REUTERS/Thomas White

Disappointing quarterly results have altered trajectory

By Jennifer Saba

NEW YORK, Aug 22 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Snap won’t easily pull a Facebook-Google-Alibaba . The messaging app’s stock is 20 percent below its initial offering price. Its big internet predecessors encountered similar territory before roaring back and beyond. Evan Spiegel’s creation could snap back, but it’s on weaker footing and losing money.

The company behind rainbow filters and dancing hotdogs debuted on the New York Stock Exchange on March 2, with its shares soaring 44 percent above their $17 IPO price. Two disappointing quarterly results and an expired lock-up period have altered Snap’s trajectory. The stock hit a low on Aug. 11 at $11.83.

Facebook faced similar woes out of the gate in May 2012. The stock cratered more than 50 percent five months after its debut at $38. Investors worried that Mark Zuckerberg’s website was yoked to desktops rather than faster-growing smartphones. Now more than 80 percent of its $27 billion in advertising revenue comes from mobile devices and its stock trades at $168.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba dipped 16 percent below its $68 IPO price a year after opening on the Big Board in September 2014. Tepid revenue growth and worries about fake goods sold through its marketplace smacked its shares. Jack Ma’s company has since regained its footing with the stock at $169, giving it a $433 billion market value.

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Alphabet, the parent company of Google, chose a little-understood Dutch auction for its debut more than a decade ago. An ill-timed Playboy interview before the IPO by co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin also irked regulators. Despite these hiccups, at $633 billion today it's one of the most valuable companies in the world.

Snap may experience a similar comeback given its allure to millennial customers. A forecast from eMarketer reckons Snapchat will overtake Facebook and its photo-sharing network Instagram in terms of total users age 12 to 24 this year. But Facebook, Google and Alibaba were cash-flow positive and profitable when they went public. Snap, which is neither, may yet get back to square one - but it will be a long slog.

CONTEXT NEWS

- Snap, the parent company of the Snapchat disappearing-messaging app, closed on Aug. 21 at $13.58, 20 percent below the IPO price of $17. Snap went public on the New York Stock Exchange on March 2.

- Research firm eMarketer on Aug. 21 released a new forecast that projects Snapchat will overtake Facebook and its photo-sharing network Instagram in terms of users age 12 to 24 this year.

(Editing by Rob Cox and Kate Duguid)

© Reuters News 2017