Is It Time to Buy Groupon Stock?

Groupon shares are down significantly since its IPO. At these levels, is the stock a bargain?

Aug 28, 2014 at 4:35PM

Once one of the fastest growing companies in history, Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) has struggled since its public debut in 2011. Shares are down nearly 70% since its IPO, and more than 44% just this year. The business that it was built on -- daily deals -- seems to have been a fad that has run its course.

Groupon has persevered, largely because of intelligent pivots, but has been a clear disappointment for shareholders. Still, after shedding so much market cap, Groupon could be a bargain at these levels. This of course begs the question, should investors put their  hard-earned money to work?

Difficult to value
It's hard to put a reasonable value on Groupon's business -- its history as a publicly traded company provides perfect evidence. When it first began trading, Groupon was valued near $13 billion, but today, its market cap is around one-third of that.

Groupon has no true price-to-earnings ratio, as it hasn't been consistently profitable in recent quarters. Even based on future estimates of profitability, Groupon's valuation is still relatively high, with a forward price-to-earnings ratio around 32.

Groupon's management claims it has no true competition, which appears to be an accurate assessment. Once, Groupon had several competitors in the daily deals space, notably LivingSocial, but most have fallen by the wayside. Originally built on daily email blasts, the company has slowly shifted to featured deals that run on its website for an extended period of time.

Groupon has also embraced the sale of physical goods, which sort of puts it into competition with firms like Amazon and eBay, but it would be disingenuous to compare Groupon to those firms. Physical goods, despite bringing in a great deal of revenue, don't add much to Groupon's profit. Moreover, the sorts of goods it sells (close-out items, refurbished electronics, and other goods that are randomly available and only for a limited time) don't compare to the department store experience offered by traditional online retailers.

Building a platform
In the absence of daily emailed coupons, Groupon has shifted its long-term business goals to the construction of a local commerce platform. In the most optimistic scenario, Groupon would come to be the central hub local merchants use to interact with customers.

There is some evidence that this strategy is working -- Groupon's app now brings in most of its revenue, and has been downloaded more than 92 million times. The company is making improvements in the form of initiatives like Groupon Pages (merchant landing sites), and the move from daily deals to featured deals creates a marketplace of deals consumers can browse at any time.

A speculative investment
To put it simply, there's not much to like. Its recent performance has been atrocious, and because it isn't profitable, it certainly isn't a value play. Revenue is growing (up 23% on an annual basis last quarter) but the profits are not following (gross profit up just 1.3%).

Concerns about Groupon's accounting have plagued the company since its debut. In particular, the company has been criticized for in its inability to provide consistent guidance -- that trend continued last quarter, when Groupon lowered its full-year adjusted EBITDA outlook by 10%.

Establishing a true online local commerce network would be novel, but such a business model obviously remains unproven. It's certainly possible that Groupon could reward its shareholders, but until it can achieve profitability, all but the most aggressive of investors may wish to stay away.

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends, Apple, and eBay. The Motley Fool owns shares of, Apple, and eBay. 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.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers