Pinterest Inc. missed expectations for earnings and guided for revenue lower than analysts expected in the current quarter, but shares still spiked in after-hours trading as users stuck around in a quarter that led to sudden change and attracted an activist investor.
on Monday reported a second-quarter loss of $43.1 million, or 7 cents a share, on sales of $665.9 million, up from $613 million a year ago. After adjusting for stock-based compensation and other effects, the online scrapbooking site reported earnings of 11 cents a share, down from 25 cents a share a year ago. Global active users declined 5% to 433 million year-over-year but were flat from the previous quarter, beating expectations for a sequential decline.
Analysts on average expected adjusted earnings of 18 cents a share on sales of $665 million, according to FactSet. Pinterest shares jumped more than 20% in after-hours trading following the release of the results, after closing with a 2% increase at $19.87.
Just as the quarter was about to end, co-founder Ben Silbermann stepped down as chief executive and was replaced by Bill Ready, a former Alphabet Inc.
and PayPal Inc.
executive who has long been focused on e-commerce. Many analysts took the move as a signal to Wall Street that Pinterest was trying to shift its focus to becoming a stronger player in e-commerce instead of relying on online advertising, a business that has been slammed so far in 2022 with rivals like Snap Inc.
and Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc.
showing signs of struggle.
“Pinterest achieved 9% revenue growth year over year in Q2, or 10% revenue growth on a constant currency basis, despite the uncertainty facing our advertisers,” Ready said in a statement Monday. “We accelerated our investment in shopping and e-commerce this quarter, and I am thrilled by the dedication of our leaders and employees to continue to build a positive place on the Internet.”
A couple of weeks later, activist investor Elliott Management Corp. told the company that it had become its largest investor, according to The Wall Street Journal, and Elliott confirmed its investment Monday afternoon with a news release.
“Pinterest is a highly strategic business with significant potential for growth, and our conviction in the value-creation opportunity at Pinterest today has led us to become the company’s largest investor,” Elliott Managing Partner Jesse Cohn and Senior Portfolio Manager Marc Steinberg said in a statement. “As the market-leading platform at the intersection of social media, search and commerce, Pinterest occupies a unique position in the advertising and shopping ecosystems, and CEO Bill Ready is the right leader to oversee Pinterest’s next phase of growth. We commend Ben Silbermann and the board on the leadership transition.”
“We’ve had a very collaborative and engaged dialogue with Elliott recently,” Ready said on a conference call Monday. “They’re aligned with our vision of what Pinterest can become, are supportive of our team and our efforts, and see the same tremendous potential for long-term value creation that I do.”
Shares surged after the initial reports on Elliott buying in, as investors bet on the activist forcing change at the company, or potentially reviving reported merger talks with PayPal.
“We believe this [stock] move has largely been driven by investor excitement around Bill Ready, former Google Head of Payments/Commerce, stepping in as CEO, along w/activist support from Elliott Mgmt and a recurring market narrative suggesting PINS as a potential acquisition target,” JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth wrote ahead of the report. “That said, we are fairly cautious on fundamentals into the print.”
For the third quarter, executives guided for revenue to “grow mid-single digits on a year-over-year percentage basis” in the third quarter. Analysts on average expected third-quarter adjusted earnings of 16 cents a share on sales of $710 million, according to FactSet, which would equal 12% revenue growth from the year before.
Ready suggested Monday he would look to cut costs in the future, saying in the conference call he “was focused on evaluating the best uses of capital for Pinterest,” and “reviewing our investment profile to understand the return on investment of our expenses and to determine the best way to optimize in a resource-constrained environment.”
“It’s worth saying that I do not subscribe to a growth-at-all-costs mentality. While I believe we need to invest in long-term growth, I also believe that constraints breed creativity and can lead to even better product outcomes. And we have an extremely creative team here,” Ready said. “So while 2022 is an investment year, I’ll be focused on aligning our investments with our objectives of creating a differentiated experience for our users, helping our existing and new advertisers achieve success on our platform, and generating attractive returns on our investments for shareholders.”
Chief Financial Officer Todd Morganfeld was more specific, saying “We will be even more strategic and selective in our hiring plans for the remainder of 2022,” while adding caution to Pinterest’s revenue guidance and warning that user growth could be slight for the rest of the year.
“Many of our advertising partners, especially larger retailers, are experiencing supply-chain issues, inflation and weakening consumer demand. These conditions are weighing on advertisers’ ability to spend, and as best signals of future performance suggest a slowdown from the growth rate we saw in July,” Morganfeld said.
“With the pandemic unwind largely behind us, we believe that global monthly active users will return to more seasonal, more typical seasonal engagement patterns in the second half of the year. Those seasonal patterns typically show modest sequential growth as we move to Q3 and Q4. However, these trends may be a bit more muted than they have been historically,” the CFO said about user growth.
The stock’s rebound on the Elliott news helped shares regain some of their losses, but they are still down more than 45% this year, as the S&P 500 index
has declined 13.3%.
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