Can Yelp Keep Going After Last Week's 19% Pop?

By Markets Fool.com

Image source: Yelp.

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It was a five-star week for Yelp (NYSE: YELP)investors. Shares of the user-submitted local venue reviews website operator hit yet another 52-week high on Friday, moving 19% higher for the week after posting blowout quarterly results.

Revenue rose 29.5% to $173.4 million. That would be impressive growth for most companies, but it's actually Yelp's weakest top-line growth as a public company. Year-over-year gains have been decelerating these days, posting seven consecutive quarters of declines according toS&P Global Market Intelligencedata. The streak began with Yelp posting67.5% growth.

The news gets better on the bottom line, where Yelp clocked in with a reported profit of $0.01 a share, reversing a modest deficit a year earlier. Analysts were holding out for another quarterly loss on a reported basis. Adjusted earnings rose 32% to $12.5 million, or $0.16 a share.

Coming back for seconds

Yelp keeps growing. There are now 108 million reviews on its platform, 30% ahead of the prior year. Business operators are willing to pay up to get noticed on Yelp, and its count of local advertising accounts has ballooned by 32% over the past year to hit 128,000.

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Wall Street's paying attention.

  • Raymond James upgraded the stock from market perform to outperform. It has a $45 price target on the stock.
  • Axiom, Mizuho, and Merrill Lynch joined Raymond James in upgrading the stock.
  • Needham bumped its price target from $34 to $42.
  • Deutsche Bank and Pipe Jaffray also juiced up their near-term stock price targets.

Even the bears are singing a different tune. Roth Capital analystDarren Aftahi is retaining his bearish sell rating on the stock, but he's jacking up his price target from $16.50 to $29. UBS is also sticking to its bearish rating, pushing its price target to $25 given the buoyant stock price following the well-received quarterly report.

It's now been four years since Yelpwent public at $15. The stock has had its ups and downs, but it has gone on to more than double from that starting line. There has been no shortage of controversy, particularly stemming from merchants that feel they have been misrepresented or at the very least underrepresented on the site if they decline to participate as paying marketing customers.

Yelp's guidance is encouraging. It sees $180 million to $184 million in net revenue for the current quarter, representing 25% to 28% growth since the prior year. That will stretch the streak of decelerating growth to eight quarters, but it will be another step in the right direction. Yelp is boosting its guidance for all of 2016. It now sees $700 million to $708 million for the entire year.

There may always be some degree of controversy, but its ability to attract reviews-seeking locals will continue to help it attract paying merchants hungry for leads. Yelp investors are enjoying new highs now, and there's been buyout speculation when the stock takes a hit. It remains an attractive situation for investors.

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Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Yelp. 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.