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This “Shrug Emoji” Announcement of Bad News Didn’t Sit Well With Investors

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In this podcast, Motley Fool senior analyst Tim Beyers discusses:

  • Snap‘s (NYSE: SNAP) 40% drop and CEO Evan Spiegel’s less-than-great communication around guidance.
  • The ripple effect on Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG)(NASDAQ: GOOGL), Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: FB), The Trade Desk (NASDAQ: TTD), and others.
  • How the current environment has little patience for nuance.
  • Zoom Video‘s (NASDAQ: ZM) strong results and upbeat guidance.
  • The underrated health of Zoom’s business.

Motley Fool retirement expert Robert Brokamp talks with Motley Fool contributor Dan Caplinger about a couple of ways investors can fight inflation.

To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool’s free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks. A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on May 24, 2022.

Chris Hill: If you’re keeping a list of CEOs you could be doing a better job of communicating with investors. We’ve got one more name you can add. Motley Fool Money starts now. I’m Chris Hill, joined by Motley Fool Senior Analyst Tim Beyers. Thanks for being here.

Tim Beyers: Thanks for having me, Chris, fully caffeinated and ready to go.

Chris Hill: Likewise. We’re going to get the Zoom in just a little bit, we have to start with Snap because Snap is having ripple effects hitting shareholders way beyond just the Snap shareholders for those who missed its CEO, Evan Spiegel warned that the company is going to miss its own quarterly targets for profits and revenue. Shares of Snap down 40 percent today and the ripple effects I referred to its basically any company that relies on digital advertising of some form or another. Shares of Meta Platforms, Roku, Pinterest, Alphabet, Trade Desk, just to name a few, down in the wake of this market environment where nobody gets the benefit of the doubt and everyone is assuming the worst all the time.

Tim Beyers: Yeah, when your stock is down 40 percent, you can no longer be called Snap, we have to call you snapped. You’ve been snapped now. It’s terrible, Chris. It’s really frustrating to be honest how this came to pass. Evan Spiegel got asked about basically the state of the business at the JP Morgan conference and said our guidance is going to come in down below the low-end of our guidance that we issued a month ago. It was probably the biggest shrug emoji of an announcement of bad news that I think I’ve seen in a while, it was really weird. It was almost like a Hollywood moment where we have to freeze the frame and say like, wait a minute, did that just happened and then, of course, to follow this up, Snap issued an 8-K and an 8-K filing. This is an SEC filing that is required when the company discloses something that could be material to an investor.

In this case, it is material that Snap investors thought they were going to see a certain amount of growth. Now they’re not going to see that and so they put out this 8-K filing that essentially repeated what Spiegel said during the conference, and then there really wasn’t any more color commentary on this, Chris. Let’s talk about what we know. The two things we do know when Snap announced guidance on April 21st. Literally a month ago, 20-25 percent year-over-year growth. That’s what to expect in the coming quarter and zero to breakeven to $50 million of EBITDA. We know two things. It’s going to be less than 20 percent and Snap, if I have my numbers right here as never grown less than 17 percent so they may set a new record for low growth with this coming quarter and they’re going to have another EBITDA loss. For those who don’t know what that means, EBITDA is earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. Chris, they’ve piled up tons of losses in that category for years. They were finally going to turn the corner here and now they’re not. I would say Snap’s response, casually putting that out there is more concerning than the actual numbers.

Chris Hill: Spiegel’s also getting some flack for laying a decent chunk of the blame at the feet of the macroeconomic environment. I think a lot of analysts and a lot of investors rightfully are looking at the business that Snap is in and saying it really shouldn’t be affecting you to the tune of 40 percent.

Tim Beyers: Certainly not in a month. There are two possible answers there either, things have deteriorated at a massive scale, which would explain some of the carnage that’s hitting other stocks. Either things from a macro perspective, if let’s say Spiegel’s right, things have deteriorated at a breathtaking pace, or, and I’m not intending this to be snappy at Snap, or their internal controls and forecasting are horrible. I mean it’s really either one of the two, Chris, and I think what’s more likely is it that things have deteriorated so dramatically that everybody should expect whiplash in their own forecast like Meta will cut back guidance, Alphabet will cut back guidance, the Trade Desk will cut back guidance.

I think it’s presumptive to say that they will. It feels much more likely to me, Chris, that Snap made some assumptions in its business and now they’ve had to go back and say, well, wait a minute, we were wrong about those assumptions. This feels more forecasting error than it does draconian macroeconomic downturn. I don’t discount that there’s probably some deterioration but this much deterioration that feels extraordinary and I’m having a hard time swallowing it.

Chris Hill: The last thing before we move on, one of my favorite comments that I saw today that I think cannot be emphasized enough for all investors regardless of the stocks in your portfolio and it was an analyst at JP Morgan Chase writing about Snap, saying, the guidance is less emblematic of the macro-environment than the messages that we have received in the banking industry. The note went on to highlight like look they’re going to do six billion in revenue this year and the quote that stuck with me was, this analyst wrote that said, this is not a market that is spending much time on nuance and I just immediately, in my mind gave that a standing ovation because that if listeners take nothing else away from what’s been happening over the past couple of months, at least. Please take that into account that this is absolutely not a market spending much that. I would say spending no time on nuance.

Tim Beyers: Hundred percent. Yeah, can we just say that at least for the moment, hysteria is the new normal?

Chris Hill: It is and that for long-term investors like us, that can create opportunity.

Tim Beyers: Yeah, that could create a lot of opportunities.

Chris Hill: It really can.

Tim Beyers: I mean before you pivot here, the quick thing is, so is it a long-term opportunity for Snap? I would just say for right now, Snap left it for us to shrug and say like, I don’t know what this means for you. I don’t think this creates an immediate buying opportunity for Snap, even though it might, they just left too much onset, Chris, but I think you’ve got to wait for the report.

Chris Hill: Absolutely, and that will be a conference call worth listening to. Let’s move on to Zoom Video Communications because first-quarter results were good, they had upbeat guidance for the second quarter.

Tim Beyers: Yep.

Chris Hill: The stock is in positive territory and as you and I were [laughs] talking earlier, this was one of those reports and guidance for Zoom that you just think, gosh, if this were just an ordinary day, in an ordinary market, this stock would probably be up a lot more.

Tim Beyers: I think it’d be up at least 20 percent. I mean, I really do. If the Nasdaq were not down over three percent as we’re talking right now, Chris, if there wasn’t so much hysteria in the market, Zoom would be up far more than it is. Let’s just hit the numbers quickly. On adjusted earnings basis, 1.03 dollars in earnings per share for the first quarter of fiscal 2023, the final estimate was 0.87 cents, so they blew that out the water. The revenue estimate was much closer 1.0738, that’s a little bit higher than the average estimate for analysts. They beat marginally, but their revenue guidance was terrific.

I mean, they came in with guidance that was right in what the market wants and again, with higher guidance in terms of their earnings-per-share, calling for in the next quarter, 90-0.92 cents and 370-377 for the full year that’s material [inaudible 00:09:38] almost four percent better than the average estimate here. The fact is that Zoom is doing incredibly well here, Chris, and I think a couple of things, two major points. Zoom right now is on track. Even if you get rid of all the artificial sweetener, all the stock-based compensation, and you account for all of their investments and capital expenditures, just building out the business, they are still on track to generate a billion dollars, a billion with a B of free cash flow just this year. In this quarter, they were able to buy back about $133 million in stock that is funded entirely, Chris, through free cash flow.

I cannot stress enough how healthy this business is and they could have put a lot more, I mean, Zoom has a mountain of cash. The fact that they only bought back $133 million worth of shares using their existing free cash flow to do it and stay conservative, stay thoughtful, and reinvest in the business. This is one of those companies that got tared as a pandemic play and has quietly gone about its business of just executing brilliantly, Chris, and let me give you one other thought on this one. It’s a relatively cheap stock. It’s likely to end the day out of free cash flow yield that’s over four percent. To put that in perspective, that’s a yield you expect for a company whose growth is slowing [laughs] not persistently growing, and doing incredibly well within an unbelievably sturdy balance sheet. Chris, this one is, I think, emblematic of the hysteria in the market. We just don’t want to give Zoom enough credit.

Chris Hill: Over the past year, the stock is down 70 percent and I think this goes to the narrative that you rightly pointed out that well this is just a pandemic stock and I think you can look back at where Zoom was a year ago, where the market was a year ago and say, “Yeah, this thing got overheated, this got out ahead of itself.” Maybe some investors we’re looking at, wow, it’s another quarter of triple-digit revenue growth, I thought that was going to go on forever.

Tim Beyers: Right.

Chris Hill: Which is a mistake to have thought that for anyone who did. But now, to your point, and it’s certainly a much more attractively priced stock. We talked earlier about the opportunities that got created in an environment like this. I think you and I are in agreement. Snap is out there because we both want to hear what they have to say.

Tim Beyers: Yep.

Chris Hill: When they come out with their actual earnings. Now that we’ve seen this with Zoom price to where the stock is for people who haven’t ever bought shares, do you look at what’s happening today and think this is a pretty nice point to get in?

Tim Beyers: I mean, it feels like that to me, Chris. I think this is a very, if you could call it cheap. I think you could fairly college cheap, I’ll just call it reasonably priced. I think this is a very reasonably priced stock but there’s going to be some people who are going to look at the top-line and say, “This thing is only growing 12 percent year-over-year” because that was, the quarterly growth was up 12 percent and they are going to see that and they’re going to say, “No way, that’s a slow-growth business. It’s in decline.” I think you’re crazy if that’s where you’re at here. Let me give you a couple of more stats here on the customer metrics here, Chris.

Their largest customers 198,900 enterprise customers that was up 24 percent over year-over-year, 2,916 customers contributing more than 100,000 in recurring revenue, that was up 46 percent, so what does this add up to? Trailing 12 months net dollar expansion rate of 123 percent. Spending 23 percent more. They have a large cohort of big customers that are growing their spend on Zoom consistently. Are we surprised that it’s generating this much cash flow? I’m not. I don’t think we should be. This stock is underpriced compared to its position, its earnings power, its cash flow, and its importance to customers [MUSIC] who just keep voting with their dollars about how they see this as part of their toolkit for doing business in a post-pandemic world, Chris.

Chris Hill: Really appreciate the time Tim, thanks for being here.

Tim Beyers: Thanks, Chris. [MUSIC]

Chris Hill: Am I the only one who thinks inflation is not looking very transitory these days? For a couple of ways that investors like us can fight inflation. Here’s certified financial planner, Robert Brokamp. [MUSIC]

Robert Brokamp: It’s been a rough year for investors. Inflation is up and our portfolios are down. Consumer price index in April rose 8.3 percent year-over-year. As of last Friday, the S&P 500 is down 18 percent so far in 2022, and the Nasdaq is down 27 percent. This is a problem because you invest today in order to pay for something in the future. You have to make sure that your portfolio can cover those future higher prices. Joining us to discuss for ways a portfolio can fight inflation is Motley Fool contributor and former financial planner and lawyer, Dan Caplinger. This week we’re going to talk about inflation firefighters and then Dan is going to join us again next week to talk about two more. Dan, welcome to the show.

Dan Caplinger: I’m glad to be here, Bro. It’s been a while since I’ve been on this show, but it’s always fun to join you.

Robert Brokamp: Well, we called you in here because we know that you’re smart guy and you could talk about all different things, including some things that a lot of people really didn’t pay attention to for many years because frankly they’re boring investments. So we’re going to start with this number 1 inflation fighter. It’s inflation adjusted investments offered by none other than Uncle Sam.

Dan Caplinger: I know. Whoever would have thought that the US Treasury would come out with a set of investments that were among the hottest, most in-demand products right now? But with inflation high, a lot of folks are discovering these for the first time. There’s two different types of the securities. One is the series I savings bonds, better known as I bonds. The other is the cumbersome Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, better known as TIPS. Both of these are bond investments. It’s important to understand this plays a different role in your portfolio than stocks. It’s not going to replace stocks. It’s for the portion of your allocation in your portfolio that you’ve got to fix the income outside of the stock market. But these particular bonds do something that most bonds don’t. They adjust their value based on changes in the consumer price index.

Because they are issued by the US treasury, they’re backed by the full faith and credit of the federal government. You don’t have to worry about default risk. Worst-case US Treasury can always generate more money to pay these off. What you’re able to do is see returns that are base, they keep up with inflation. When you see inflation pop up, you will see the returns on these bonds go up as well. That’s what’s getting so much attention bro. Because if you buy an I bond right now since the beginning of May, you will get an interest rate of more than 9.6 percent. Yes. Not a typo, not 0.96, 9.6 percent on an annualized basis on that I bond. But before you think, boy, I should just replace my whole stock portfolio with these guys there’s a couple of things to keep in mind. One is the interest rate on I bond changes every six months. It’s based on what happens to inflation over that ensuing six-month period. The reason that we’re getting 9.6 percent for the six-month period is because inflation in the consumer price index went up by that amount on an annualized basis.

The other thing to keep in mind about these I bonds is if there is a limit to how much you can buy. Generally, each taxpayer, each social security number can get tied to $10,000 worth of I bond purchases in any given calendar year. That means that if you’re married and you can buy 10,000 worth, your spouse can buy 10,000 worth. But it’s not something that if you’ve got a million-dollar portfolio, you’re going to be able to get everything into these I bonds and get that guaranteed 9.6 percent rate. Another thing to keep in mind, I bonds you have to hold onto them for at least a year. You can hold onto them and they continue to generate interest are up to 30 years. You don’t have to hold them that long.

If you cash them in before five years goes by, then you’ll pay basically an early withdrawal penalty of three months worth of interest. But a lot of folks are getting into these just because you’re seeing declines in the stock market. You’re seeing declines in a lot of bond, mutual funds and ETFs. These offer a way to get yourself guaranteed positive return because they can’t lose value and they’re easy to get through treasurydirect.gov. In addition, you may be able to, if you have a tax refund coming, you can direct to that tax refund into the purchase of I bonds up to $5,000 in additional I bonds. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

Robert Brokamp: With I bonds, you pretty much have to get them directly from Uncle Sam. TIPS are a different story. You can get them directly from Uncle Sam, but you can buy them in other ways.

Dan Caplinger: That’s right. TIPS are a different animal. It’s important to understand the difference because there are some things that I bonds have that TIPS don’t and vice versa. TIPS are also auctions through the US government. You can get them on the Treasury Direct website on a relatively infrequent basis. I think that they auction off new TIPS on a once per month, but you can also buy them through your broker. Now that’s not the case with I bonds. But with TIPS, you can buy them through your broker and you can choose from a variety of maturity dates, anything from just a few months out to as long as 30 years from now. The thing that you have to worry about when you buy TIPS on the open market is that many of them are trading at premium prices compared to what they will pay out when they mature, at the date of their maturity.

Robert Brokamp: That’s a safer side of your portfolio. Let’s take a look at the riskier side of your portfolio and some of the things you can invest in that will give you a better chance of beating inflation. Looking at inflation fighter number 2, we’re going to talk about dividend stocks. Just so over the long term, stocks in general are a good inflation hedge. Over many historical periods, stocks have outpaced inflation by 67 percent a year on average. It makes sense. Because inflation is a result of companies charging higher prices. You could benefit if you own shares in those companies. But the short-term is a different story and we’ve seen that this year. However, I think it’s important for you to remember that the returns from the stock market comes really from two sources, price movements and dividends. While prices are down this year, dividends have kept on growing according to Standard and Poor’s, US companies have grown their dividend by 9.5 percent in the first quarter of this year. I think people don’t really often think too much about dividends or an afterthought especially nowadays. The yield on the S&P 500 is 1.37 percent.

The last time yields were this low, were the early 2000s plus not every stock pays a dividend. But dividends can really be a resilient way to fight inflation. In a recent MarketWatch article, Mark Hulbert wrote that based on the average of all rolling 12-month periods since 1940, dividends per share growth has outpaced inflation by 2.4 percentage points per year. Plus companies are really reluctant to cut dividends. They represent a long-term promise, investors do not respond favorably to dividend cuts. Let’s say you like this idea of buying some dividend payers. Of course, you can go out and buy individual companies that pay a dividend. But you also can get an insulin diversified portfolio through ETFs that track at dividend oriented index. There are several of these out there. Most are offered by the big name brokerage firms and mutual fund companies.

But it’s important to understand the criteria for our company to be included in the ETF. Some of these ETFs focus on companies that have higher yields today. Others only on companies as yields are actually may not be particularly high, but the dividend is growing at above average rate. Also, the index methodologies often result in different sector waiting. [MUSIC] I think it’s perfectly reasonable to own more than one dividend-oriented ETF to round out your exposure. As for how these ETFs have done so far this year, most are holding up better than the overall market. Still down, but the declines are mostly in the single digits.

Chris Hill: As always, people on the program may have interest in the stocks they talk about, and The Motley Fool may have formal recommendations for or against, so don’t buy or sell stocks based solely on what you hear. I’m Chris Hill, thanks for listening. We’ll see you tomorrow.

JPMorgan Chase is an advertising partner of The Ascent, a Motley Fool company. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Chris Hill has positions in Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), JPMorgan Chase, Pinterest, and The Trade Desk. Dan Caplinger has positions in Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), JPMorgan Chase, Pinterest, The Trade Desk, and Zoom Video Communications. Robert Brokamp, CFP(R) has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Tim Beyers has positions in Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), and Zoom Video Communications. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Meta Platforms, Inc., Pinterest, Roku, The Trade Desk, and Zoom Video Communications. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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