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Weibo stock downgraded to underweight

EditorAhmed Abdulazez Abdulkadir
Published 05/17/2024, 05:15 AM

On Friday, Morgan Stanley adjusted its stance on Weibo Corp (NASDAQ:WB), downgrading the stock from Equalweight to Underweight and reducing the price target to $10 from the previous $11. The investment firm cited several factors for the downgrade, including a challenging outlook for the company's advertising business, which is heavily tied to consumer spending, and competitive pressures.

Weibo's advertising revenues are projected to grow by only 2% year-over-year in 2024, which is significantly lower than the growth rates anticipated for peers such as Kuaishou, Bilibili (NASDAQ:BILI), and Tencent, which are expected to see growth rates above 20% year-over-year.

This underperformance is partly attributed to the fact that two-thirds of Weibo's advertising verticals are consumption-related, making them more vulnerable to economic fluctuations.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, Weibo's ad revenue mix included fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) at 17-18%, e-commerce at 17%, games at 13%, automotive at 9%, luxury items at 5-6%, and cultural/entertainment at 5%.

However, China's retail sales growth has decelerated, impacting advertising spend across these categories. The slowdown from 6% year-over-year growth in January-February to 3%/2% in March-April is expected to pressure Weibo's second-quarter guidance.

The broader market trends also indicate challenges for the advertising sector. Alibaba (NYSE:BABA)'s gross merchandise volume (GMV) growth is estimated to slow down, and Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) anticipates continued weakness in advertising throughout 2024. Weibo, with its higher reliance on brand advertising, faces additional risks as brands shift their budgets towards live streaming platforms and other emerging marketing channels.

Morgan Stanley's AlphaWise survey of approximately 2,000 consumers showed a reduced appetite for spending and a continued trend of consumption downgrade following the Chinese New Year. This sentiment is fueled by concerns over income and job security, prompting certain verticals like cosmetics and beauty to reallocate budgets away from traditional advertising towards live streaming platforms.

Competitors like Bilibili are also increasing their e-commerce live streaming efforts, drawing more advertising budget from major e-commerce players such as Alibaba, JD (NASDAQ:JD).com, Vipshop (NYSE:VIPS), and Pinduoduo (NASDAQ:PDD).

InvestingPro Insights

In light of Morgan Stanley's recent downgrade of Weibo Corp (NASDAQ:WB), it's crucial for investors to consider various financial metrics and analyst insights that could impact investment decisions. According to real-time data from InvestingPro, Weibo holds a market capitalization of $2.44 billion and is trading at an earnings multiple of 6.51, which is considered low, potentially indicating an undervalued stock. The company's impressive gross profit margin stands at 78.73% for the last twelve months as of Q1 2023, showcasing its ability to retain a significant portion of revenue as gross profit.

Notably, Weibo's liquid assets surpass its short-term obligations, providing a cushion for operational needs. Furthermore, the company has been profitable over the last twelve months, and analysts predict it will remain profitable this year. This financial stability is reflected in the company's strong returns, with a 29.21% price total return over the last month and an 18.57% return over the last three months. These metrics may offer a counterbalance to the concerns raised by Morgan Stanley regarding the advertising business outlook.

For investors seeking deeper insights, there are additional InvestingPro Tips available, including the company's cash position relative to its debt and valuation implications for its free cash flow yield. To access the full suite of tips and make more informed investment decisions, visit InvestingPro for Weibo and use coupon code PRONEWS24 to get an additional 10% off a yearly or biyearly Pro and Pro+ subscription. With 11 more InvestingPro Tips available, investors can gain a comprehensive understanding of Weibo's financial health and market position.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

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