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Ahead of the Bell: Groupon

NEW YORK (AP) -- Groupon shares tumbled 12 percent before Friday's opening bell after the online deal company said that it expects to post a loss this quarter and issued a weak outlook for the entire year.

The company late Thursday projected an adjusted first-quarter loss of 2 to 4 cents per share. Revenue is expected to total between $710 million and $760 million. Wall Street had been expecting a per-share profit of a nickel on $688.3 million in revenue.

The company is also ramping up its marketing campaign and expects 2014 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to be only slightly higher than last year.

Janney Capital Markets analyst Shawn Milne backed his "neutral" rating and $12 price target for the stock. He remained concerned about expectations of ongoing significant growth in the company's North American Groupon goods business, given the long delivery times involved and the tough comparisons it faces in the first half of this year.

Jordan Rohan of Stifel Nicolaus kept a "Buy" rating on the shares, saying that while the company's results have been inconsistent, he still expects a turnaround.

Groupon posted a fourth-quarter loss of $81.2 million, or 12 cents per share. That compared with a loss of $81.1 million, or 12 cents per share, in the same quarter the year before. Excluding one-time charges, the company posted an adjusted profit of 4 cents per share for the recent period.

Revenue rose 20 percent to $768.4 million from $638.3 million.

Analysts expected a profit of 2 cents per share on $720.6 million in revenue.

Groupon Inc. shares fell $1.25 to $9.03.