Groupon, Inc. Drops Despite Strong Fourth-Quarter Results

By Markets Fool.com

Groupon fell slightly in after-hours trading on Thursday. Shares of the local deals giant were down a bit more than 2% as of 5:00 pm EST. The decline comes in the wake of Groupon's most recent earnings report.

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In the fourth quarter, Groupon generated revenue of $925.4 million, better than the $908.38 million consensus estimate. Likewise, Groupon's adjusted earnings per share of $0.06 exceeded the $0.03 estimate. Unfortunately, Groupon's outlook proved disappointing.

Groupon's business continues to grow
Groupon continues to grow rapidly. Its fourth-quarter revenue was up 20% on an annual basis, while its full-year 2014 revenue rose 24% compared to 2013. Gross billings, which is a measure of the dollar amount of goods and services sold on Groupon's platform, came in at $2.1 billion -- up 31% from the prior year.

Other measures also suggested positive momentum in Groupon's business. Groupon's mobile app has now been downloaded more than 110 million times -- up from just 70 million in the same quarter last year. Groupon had 370,000 active deals on its coupon platform as of the end of the quarter, up 70,000 on a sequential basis. Active customers -- defined as a person who has purchased an item or deal from Groupon within the last 12 months -- rose 23% year over year.

Groupon's customers are spending more. On a trailing 12-month basis, customers spent on average $155 on Groupon's platform, up from $149 in the third quarter. And more of those customers are coming to Groupon from search engines rather than direct emails: 26% of North American transactions were related to search, up from 19% in the same quarter last year.

The first quarter may be disappointing
Despite Groupon's strong results, management's outlook was not as great as analysts had been anticipating. Next quarter, Groupon expects to generate revenue of $790 million to $840 million, and adjusted earnings per share of breakeven to $0.02 per share. But analysts had been a bit more optimistic in their outlook, anticipating adjusted earnings per share of $0.03 on revenue of around $856 million.

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Interestingly, this is the same situation that plagued Groupon shareholders last quarter: While Groupon's third-quarter results exceeded expectations, its outlook fell short.

The story hasn't changed
It doesn't appear as though the Groupon story has meaningfully changed, at least in the wake of its fourth-quarter results. Groupon's business appears to be heading in a positive direction, but there are still questions about the long-term viability of its business model. While Groupon is profitable, it isn't terribly so.

Overall, the fourth quarter does not appear to have been particularly notable for Groupon, and the relatively muted reaction in the stock following the report seems to support that notion.

The article Groupon, Inc. Drops Despite Strong Fourth-Quarter Results originally appeared on Fool.com.

Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.