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Snap shares wither more as filings show some investors bailing

[NEW YORK] Snap Inc shares fell 4 per cent on Monday after US securities filings showed some funds dissolving their stakes in the social media company and another brokerage lowered its price target on the stock.

Shares of the Snapchat parent are likely to face new pressure on Monday, when employees for the first time are allowed to sell their stock following the company's blockbuster initial public offering.

Monday is also the deadline for hedge funds and other institutional investors to report their quarter-end holdings of US equities.

Initial securities filings since Friday show Third Point LLC and Temasek Holdings dissolved their stakes in Snap entirely.

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The new pressure on Snap's stock follows a disappointing quarterly report last week that sent it down 14 per cent on Friday to a closing low of US$11.83, far below its IPO price of US$17. On Monday, the shares fell another 3.8 per cent to US$11.38 after being among the most actively traded stocks before the market opened.

Wall Street is increasingly worried that Snap is succumbing to competition from Facebook Inc's Instagram.

Instagram, which has adopted features from Snapchat, has 250 million daily active users, compared with Snapchat's 173 million at the end of the second quarter, fewer than Wall Street had expected. Cantor Fitzgerald, which rates the stock "neutral," lowered its price target to US$15 from US$17.

"We remain on the sidelines until we see signs of re-acceleration in user growth, an inflection on Snap pricing... and/or get closer to the end of the lock-up expiration," analyst Kip Paulson said in a research note. Starting on Monday, employees are allowed to sell hundreds of millions of their shares for the first time since Snap's US$3.4 billion market debut in March, the largest US IPO in years.

That follows an expiry at the end of July on restrictions from early investors owning around 400 million shares.

To try to reassure investors, Snap Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel and co-founder Robert Murphy on Thursday committed to not sell any of their combined 422 million shares in 2017.

Close to 800 million shares become eligible for trading on Monday, including Spiegel and Murphy's stakes, according to JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth.

Snapchat is popular among people under 30 who like decorating their pictures with bunny faces and other filters. But following the IPO, investors have become more concerned that it might never become profitable.

REUTERS

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