Groupon Sails Past Estimates, With Higher Costs Ahead

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Groupon, Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) managed to rise ahead of earnings on Thursday, a harbinger that investors did not seem panicky about the report. Now we know what the daily deals and operator is reporting – and shares have been mixed after the news based upon increased investment by the company.

Groupon’s fourth quarter numbers were operating income outside of items at $47.9 million or $0.04 in earnings per share and revenue of $768.4 million, versus Thomson Reuters estimates of $0.02 per share and $718.04 million in revenue. The company’s gross billings were $1.6 billion and adjusted EBITDA was $72.0 million.

Issues that highlighted the quarter were called a record performance led by strength in goods. The mobile business, which everyone is most focused on at the moment, continued to gain momentum with worldwide mobile transaction mix increasing over 10% in the quarter to nearly 50% in December. The company claimed to have another 9 million downloads this quarter, making nearly 70 million app downloads to date.

Guidance is everything. The first quarter of 2014 is being forecast between $710 million and $760 million in revenue (versus $668.8 million expected), and non-GAAP earnings between a loss at -$0.04 to -$0.02 per share. That number still seems to include charges from items, so we are not counting as finite yet.

Groupon also said that due to growth investments it expects adjusted EBITDA for the full year to be slightly above 2013 levels. The stock closed up 2.6% at $10.28 on the day, yet shares are down almost 3% at $9.71 in the after-hours session.