Grubhub Still Faces Competitive Woes After Amazon's Exit

Things were looking good for Grubhub Inc. (NYSE: GRUB) coming into earnings. The restaurant food delivery service provider’s shares had been recovering in the wake of Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN

) ditching its food delivery services.

It turns out that, even if Jeff Bezos decided not to compete here, that food delivery is still highly competitive. With Uber Eats, DoorDash and dozens or hundreds of smaller localized players in the field, Grubhub is just having to spend and spend at a pace that might not be ideal against revenues.

Grubhub was down nearly 10% at one point. Its second-quarter revenue rose by a sharp 36% from a year ago to $325.1 million, which was about 2% better than expected. What hurts is that its adjusted earnings per share of $0.27 was about 10% shy of expectations. Grubhub reported that its pool of active diners rose by 30% from a year ago to 20.3 million. As executives seek improving efficiencies, they are also targeting smaller and less dense markets that tend to be more expensive to serve. All this translates to higher ad and promotional spending at a time when many competitors are backed by venture funding that doesn’t necessarily care about profitability today.

The company now suggests that revenue will be no more than $1.39 billion in 2019, down from its prior forecast of $1.42 billion in revenue, and EBITDA is also expected to be soft in 2019. The overall net profit after all items was just one cent per share, rather than the $0.33 figure a year ago.

While Benchmark had initiated Grubhub with a Buy rating and $95 target price of July 19, some analysts have made competing calls. Credit Suisse maintained its Outperform rating but lowered its target to $122 from $133. Morgan Stanley maintained its Equal Weight rating and lowered its target price to $68 from $72.

Canaccord Genuity maintained Grubhub at Outperform with $110 price target. The firm noted that the second-quarter results brought strong diner growth and improving delivery economics.

Wedbush Securities maintained its Outperform rating but here too lowered its target, to $90 from $100. The firm’s report viewed continued strong net diner additions and revenue growth, but inline EBITDA and slightly lower annual guidance. The report said:

While the story will clearly require more patience as investor sentiment won’t improve post the print, results weren’t nearly as bad as share reaction would imply, in our view. The outlook certainly didn’t exude confidence but despite FY guidance being lowered (revenue top line was lowered, but midpoint remains the same, EBITDA midpoint was lowered 3%) there was nothing structurally in Grubhub’s print that changed our view that it is still the best positioned to capture this significant market opportunity over the long-term. Profitability is improving as the new delivery markets are scaling. Grubhub is still on track to hit the ~$1.50 per order of profitability in 4Q, and management is still not expecting another round of incremental marketing spend.

While Grubhub shares were down 3.8% at $67.27 in midday trading on Wednesday, that followings the post-earnings drop of 12.3% the prior day, after having closed at $79.73 building up to earnings. Grubhub shares have a 52-week trading range of $60.20 to $149.35.