Groupon Is Still Dying

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As the top Web stocks continue to sell off, the shares of one company stand out particularly as a victim of the carnage. Groupon Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GRPN) stock is down more than 30% this year. That compares to Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), which, despite sharp drops, are close to flat for the year. Groupon’s core business continues to draw attention to whether the company can ever be successful.

Investors continue to smart from Groupon’s very modest performance in the final quarter of last year and from its weak guidance for the current quarter.

Revenue increased 20% to $768.4 million in the fourth quarter 2013, compared with $638.3 million in the fourth quarter 2012. North America revenue growth of 18% and EMEA growth of 43% was offset by a 15% decline in Rest of World.

And:

Operating income was $13.4 million in the fourth quarter 2013, compared with an operating loss of $12.9 million in the fourth quarter 2012.

Finally:

[F]or the first quarter 2014, the Company expects revenue of between $710 million and $760 million.

In terms of quarter over previous quarter, Groupon is barely expected to hold its own.

Groupon has suffered from the repeated perception that it is easy for small regional competitors and larger companies like Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) to replicated its model. Based on recent evidence, that observation has been true. Almost all the deals with vendors that Groupon has announced are tiny.

As business school professors like to point out, successful companies have a deep and wide moat. Groupon has neither. All it can boast is that it has $1.3 billion in cash and cash equivalents. Its market cap is only $5 billion and falling, which tells a great deal about what Wall Street actually thinks its business operations are worth.

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