Snap Flops Again, Stock Tanks 20 Percent on Limp Q3 User Growth

Disappearing messaging app adds only 4.5 million users for third quarter

Evan Spiegel’s social network continues to make investor money disappear, as Snap reported hugely disappointing earnings for the third quarter in a row, sending its stock down nearly 20 percent after hours.

After the bell, Snap reported $207.9 million in revenue and a loss of 14 cents a share for the three months ended Sept. 30 —  falling short of analyst estimates of $237 million in revenue, but slightly beating earnings estimates of 15 cents a share.

Snap reported 178 million daily active users — less than the 180.5 million it projected. It added 4.5 million DAUs for the quarter, representing only a 3 percent increase over last quarter. And even as Snap continues to scale, their hosting costs continue to increase, jumping 11 percent per user quarter-over-quarter.

Compounding matters, Snap’s sales underwhelmed once again. One piece of good news, though, was average revenue per user was up significantly for the second straight quarter, moving to $1.17 ARPU — a 12 percent quarter-over-quarter increase.

Snap has seemingly thrown in the towel on Spectacles, its much maligned camera-sunglasses, writing off $39.9 million in losses for the quarter.

Snap had been heavily scrutinized for committing the cardinal sin of middling user growth and uninspiring sales in its first two quarters as a public company; that trend continued during the third quarter. At the same time, it’s been constantly and unfavorably compared to its chief rival, Instagram, which has copied many of Snap’s features. Instagram Stories recently reported it has 300 million daily active users.

Yet even with its ugly start as a publicly traded company, there had been signs Snap is on the verge of a turnaround. The Venice, CA.-based company has been working to beef up its strength as a go-to platform for advertisers, with a quarter to integrate its GPS-based measurement of ad-to-foot traffic feature. And just last Friday, Snap acquired Metamarkets to provide ad data for marketers.

And while Spiegel was widely mocked — including by TheWrap — for touting its animated dancing hot dog as the “first augmented reality superstar,” the bet on AR has paid dividends according to brands, but hasn’t shown up in its quarterly results so far. Companies have turned to Snap for its AR lenses (think Taco Bell using a Taco face filter to push its products). “Snapchat seem to be leading the AR innovation since their product is centered around the camera, and they have scale to continually test, iterate and improve quickly,” one marketing expert told Business Insider last week.

Another feather in Snap’s cap has been its continued popularity with Gen Z’ers. A Piper Jaffray survey last month found nearly half (47 percent) of 4,100 teens polled said Snapchat is their preferred social media platform — holding a massive lead on both Instagram (24 percent) and Facebook (9 percent).

Snapchat has added several unscripted shows this year, including dating shows like “Phone Swap,” that target its cherished young demo. Chief Technology Officer Bobby Murphy hinted there’s more content to come back in August, saying “we can expect to see scripted shows on Snapchat before the end of the year.”

Heading into Tuesday, Snap’s stock had mirrored its apparent bounce back, rising 29 percent since trading below $12 the day after its Q2 earnings report. But even with its hot streak, shares were trading below its $17 debut and the $29 high-mark it hit immediately following its IPO in March.

The company will hold a call at 5:00 p.m. ET to discuss its earnings.