After three consecutive quarters of disappointment, Groupon (GRPN) is back in the positive surprise column once again. Thanks to a simplified approach and amended objectives, the daily-deals site saw its first quarter revenues rise 7.5% to a better than expected $601 million.
Under the leadership of its new co-CEO's (Eric Levkofsky and Ted Leonsis), the company scaled back the spam-like email outreach of yore and is focusing instead on growing its search business.
As my co-host Jeff Macke and I discuss in the attached video, the stock has more than doubled since November and the turn-around is being driven in part by the company's conversion from what it calls "Push to Pull," which allows users to search for the sort of deal they want, rather than scanning their inbox to see if something enticing might be in there.
"The stock is going higher because the company is no longer at risk of completely dying," Macke surmises, adding that investors should not confuse one quarter's worth of progress "with a huge comeback story."
Another thing Groupon has going for it and is looking to leverage is the fact that it currently does an industry-leading 45% of its sales from mobile devices.
To be fair, the road back to its $20 a share IPO price in late 2011, or its $31 share peak price, is still a long ways off, but shareholders and the media are starting to take notice and reconsider. A recent write-up in Fortune, for example, referred to the Chicago-based company as "plucky" and "refusing to accept defeat."
While the market gains have been solid, the list of converts on Wall Street remains thin, where nearly 90% of analysts rate the stock either a "Hold" or a "Sell."
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- Ted Leonsis