Stock Analyst Update

Overvalued Dropbox Issues Tepid Guidance

John Barrett

 Dropbox (DBX) reported decent fourth-quarter results but provided investors with a relatively tepid first-quarter forecast as the firm completed its first full year as a public company. We continue to be concerned about Dropbox's competitive position in what we believe will be a commoditized cloud storage industry. Furthermore, we believe that Dropbox’s collaboration offerings lack meaningful differentiation from the solutions provided by rivals Microsoft and Google. As a result, we maintain our no-moat and negative moat trend ratings for Dropbox and we are lowering our fair value estimate to $12 from $14. Even with shares down about 10% after hours, we still view Dropbox as materially overvalued.

Dropbox continued its steady growth in average revenue per user, or ARPU, and paid user adoption. ARPU increased to $119.61, a 5.5% increase year over year. Despite the success in 2018, we are skeptical how much further ARPU can expand in the coming years. In particular, we find it likely that Google or Microsoft will undertake a marketing campaign that will limit Dropbox’s pricing power.

In the fourth quarter, Dropbox added another 400,000 paying customers, bringing 2018 net new paid users to 1.7 million and total paying users to 12.7 million. While Dropbox indicated that its mix shift continues to shift toward business users and a focus on converting higher value customers, we remain unconvinced that users are finding the collaboration tools compelling enough to upgrade from a free account. We believe that Dropbox’s low conversion rate continues to imply that roughly 97% of users view Dropbox as a commodity cloud storage provider.

Turning to revenue, fourth-quarter revenue came in at $375.9 million, ahead of the midpoint of the firm's prior guidance of $368.5 million. The fourth quarter marked the third consecutive quarter (in as many attempts) that Dropbox had exceeded their quarterly revenue guidance by over 2%.

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John Barrett does not own shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar's editorial policies.