Why Quotient Technology Inc. Stock Surged 21% Higher on Friday

What happened

Digital-coupons specialist Quotient Technology (NYSE: QUOT) -- the company formerly and better known as "Coupons.com" -- saw its stock spike 21.1% by the closing bell on Friday.

So what

This being earnings season, you might imagine that Quotient's remarkable stock performance Friday had something to do with an earnings report. You'd be right.

Thursday night, you see -- after close of trading for that day, but before trading resumed on Friday morning -- Quotient reported its fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year earnings for 2016. Expected to earn just $0.02 per share for the quarter on $70 million in revenue, Quotient instead turned in $75.4 million in revenue (9% better than in Q4 2015), and earned $0.04 per share on that revenue -- twice what had been expected.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Full-year results were similarly good. Revenues for the year jumped 16% to $275.2 million for fiscal 2016. And while Quotient was fully expected to report a loss for the year, its $0.23-per-share GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) loss was at least 28% less than the $0.32 per share that Quotient lost in fiscal 2015. Meanwhile, Quotient reported positive free cash flow from its business of $15.5 million -- a remarkable improvement from the $4 million cash burn the company experienced in fiscal 2015.

Quotient also provided guidance for fiscal 2017. Management's prediction for earnings came in the form of a highly malleable "adjusted EBITDA" (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) number that we'll dismiss without comment. On the other hand, management also said it expects to book between $307 million and $317 million in sales. That's a more generally accepted metric, and one that suggests a respectable 13.5% pace of growth in the new year.

Valued at $1.2 billion today -- and with $175 million in cash and short-term investments, and not a lick of debt -- Quotient now carries an enterprise value of roughly $1 billion, and therefore an EV/FCF (enterprise value to free cash flow) ratio of about 63.5. The growth rate is respectable, but I have to conclude that despite its turning in a very strong fourth quarter, Quotient's stock is too expensive to invest in at this price point.

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Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.