Was the Groupon Earnings Report Misunderstood?

Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) is trading handily lower after earnings, to the point that if you did not look at the news you might just think that Groupon had another crummy earnings report. The company did say it was going to invest heavily in its future — lingo for higher spending ahead. The reality is that the earnings report seemed more than acceptable. So, are Wall Street and Main Street alike simply being too hard on Groupon?

The daily deals and discounts reported earnings of -$0.01 per share, and revenue was $757.6 million. Thomson Reuters was expecting a net loss of $0.03 per share, down from a profit of $0.03 per share a year ago. Revenue was expected to be up almost 23% to $738.4 million.

One obvious complaint is that much of the growth came from acquisitions. That being said, this big acquisition that the company made also allowed for the company to become more of a global story. Groupon even reported that it had more than 10 million app downloads this quarter and mobile transactions reached 54% in March.

Another issue was a record for gross billings, up 29% to $1.82 billion were a record. North America billings increased 15%, its EMEA region rose by 4% and its Rest of World segment grew by 123% (driven by the Ticket Monster acquisition). North America revenue increased 27%, EMEA increased 26% and Rest of World increased 23%.

Groupon also confirmed that it repurchased 3,075,700 shares of common stock at an average price of $9.58 per share for a total of $29.5 million. Under the existing authorization, Groupon has repurchased a total of 7,508,500 shares at an average price of $10.13 per share for a total of $76.0 million. OK, so Groupon has repurchased its shares at a price higher than the current market price. Still, Groupon is still authorized to repurchase up to an additional $224.0 million worth of shares, and Groupon had $1.0 billion in cash and cash equivalents.

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For guidance, Groupon sees a continued investment to accelerate long-term growth worldwide (again, lingo for higher spending and lower margins). Revenue was forecast to be between $725 million and $775 million, adjusted EBITDA of between $45 million and $65 million, and non-GAAP earnings per share excluding items of between $0.00 and $0.02. The comparable Thomson Reuters consensus estimates were $0.03 in earnings per share and $754.4 million in revenue.

Groupon also raised its full-year outlook, now expecting adjusted EBITDA to exceed $300 million.

The firm Northland Securities has downgraded the stock to Market Perform from Outperform, and the target price was slashed to $7 from $12 in the call. Sterne Agee maintained its Buy rating and $12 price target, despite the weakness.

So, the question to ask is why Groupon was battered. The stock closed down 2.5% at $6.72 ahead of the report on Tuesday, against a 52-week range of $5.37 to $12.76. Shares were indicated mixed after the report, but now the stock’s day-after reaction was initially down a whopping 16% at $5.64 in early Wednesday trading.

Maybe this is just a Groupon, on Groupon’s own stock.

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