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Three questions for Snap as it reports earnings this week for the first time

Snap will report Q1 earnings on Wednesday.

Snapchat Parent Snap Begins Trading On New York Stock Exchange Drew Angerer / Getty

Facebook has spent the past nine months trying to kill off Snapchat — and at first glance back in February, it looked like the social network’s efforts to copy Snapchat’s best features may have significantly slowed the startup’s rapid growth.

Snapchat, meanwhile, chalked up the slowdown to a technical issue with Android users that has since been fixed.

We’ll soon know if that was the case: Snap, which just went public in early March, will report earnings for the first time on Wednesday, and that means we’ll get an update on Snapchat’s user growth, as well as its business growth over the first three months of 2017.

Wall Street will be paying close attention. Snap was the biggest tech IPO in two years when it went public in March and raised almost $3.5 billion. Many hope that Snap can eventually offer an alternative to Google and Facebook for mobile advertisers, though that dream is still a way off. Research firm eMarketer predicts that even by 2018, Snap will own just 1 percent of the worldwide mobile ad market.

If you plan to follow along Wednesday, here are three things to watch for.

Is Snapchat’s growth a concern?

Snapchat added just five million new daily active users in Q4, its lowest quarter-over-quarter jump in two years. Some believe that’s a result of Facebook copying Snapchat’s Stories feature into all of its apps, and that very well could be the case. (Instagram, in particular, says that half of its 400 million daily users watch or post to the product.) RBC Capital’s Mark Mahaney estimates that Snapchat added seven million new users last quarter; Snapchat has added almost 11 million new users per quarter over the past two years.

Are Snapchat’s users getting more valuable?

One reason those close to Snap aren’t concerned about its user slowdown is that the company thinks it can keep growing its revenue significantly even if it doesn’t add more users. That’s because Snap believes it can sustain business growth by simply making more money off the users it already has. Snap made $2.15 per user in North America in Q4, for example; Facebook made $19.81 per user in the same geographic area. If you believe Snap can one day monetize like Facebook does, then the company has a lot of room to grow its revenue, even if its user base doesn’t expand at the same clip. At least for now.

How will Snap’s execs talk to Wall Street?

CEO Evan Spiegel does not say much publicly these days, but it’s likely that we’ll hear from him Wednesday on the call. (We’ve asked for confirmation, but it would be much more surprising if he didn’t join the call.) Expect analysts to ask Spiegel about Snapchat’s competition from Facebook, which he has not yet addressed publicly (though his fiancée did, and it was great). What makes Spiegel’s comments all the more interesting is that he, alongside co-founder Bobby Murphy, has iron-clad control over the company’s future — Snap’s publicly available shares don’t even come with voting privileges. That means investors are betting on Spiegel, and on Wednesday we may get to hear from him directly.

Snap reports earnings after markets close on Wednesday. Analysts expect Snapchat will have a net loss of 19 cents per share on revenue of $158 million for the quarter.

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