Wolfe Research upgrades Pinterest, cites long-term user and monetization growth under new CEO

Pinterest can jump more than 25% from here as there are “several paths” for the social media stock to outperform, according to Wolfe Research. Analyst Deepak Mathivanan upgraded Pinterest to outperform from peer perform, saying the shares have “meaningful upside” under the new CEO Bill Ready whose appointment points to a deeper commitment to e-commerce for the image sharing platform. “Our bullish view is centered on PINS’s LT user growth and monetization potential under the new CEO. Despite uncertain macro, we see many positive catalysts over next 12-18 months,” Mathivanan wrote in a Tuesday note. The analyst set a $28 price target on Pinterest, representing roughly 27% upside from Tuesday’s closing price of $22.10. Shares of Pinterest rose 2.2% in Wednesday premarket trading. Pinterest’s stock price cratered as traders dumped shares of growth names — the stock down 39% this year and off 66% its 52-week high — but the analyst’s positive view on the company is based on three points. Mathivanan expects that Pinterest has “significant runway” in terms of user growth and monetization, he believes that execution on long-term goals should improve under CEO Ready, and he forecasts catalysts ahead including growth in monthly average user numbers. “We also see M & A with a strategic as a potential outcome for shares, should execution lag over next several quarters, given the activist involvement. Overall, we think risk/reward skews positively at current levels,” read the note. To be sure, the analyst said he could be wrong should Pinterest’s relevance prove to be “structurally declining,” or if the company fails to monetize its engagement model at the same level as competitors. –CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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