Yelp Shares Tank As B. Riley Cuts To Sell From Buy

Yelp Inc. shares tanked on Friday after fourth-quarter earnings that showed average monthly unique visitors up 13% to about 135 million, a growth rate that was below that of its past few quarters. B. Riley downgraded the consumer-review website to sell from buy and said the stock no longer deserves a premium. "Our thesis has changed," they wrote in a note. The research company was expecting most of the traffic to be organic, but some was driven by marketing, which it said can be a slippery slope. "We believe web reliant traffic sources have stagnated and the company's effort to increase App installs will be expensive," said the note. Advertising guidance looks aggressive as local account adds productivity has declined, and growth margin characteristics have changed, it said. Shares are down 22% in the last three months, while the S&P 500 has gained 0.2%.

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