Every language has different words and phrases to express disappointment. Rosetta Stone (NYSE: RST ) is hearing them all this morning, after the language-software specialist scrapped a secondary offering and warned of a gloomy near-term outlook.
The peculiar nugget in Rosetta's miss missive is that sales are humming along just fine. The interactive educator is still expecting $245 million to $248 million in revenue this year, well ahead of the $209.4 million it rang up in 2008.
Rosetta's shortcomings are on the bottom line, where it is now expecting non-GAAP earnings to clock in between $1.14 and $1.18 a share. The new range is $0.08 per share lower than its original guidance. Marketing missteps, costlier development, and a general lack of cost containment will be pressuring margins this year.
Rosetta should have gotten its act together before going public earlier this year. Investors don't like to be let down by market rookies. Shares were off by as much as 30% this morning, despite what's technically a mere 6% to 7% miss on the bottom line.
IPOs need to come out of the gate running. Fellow 2009 debutantes OpenTable (Nasdaq: OPEN ) , Bridgepoint Education (NYSE: BPI ) , and Changyou.com (Nasdaq: CYOU ) have delivered better-than-expected results in their initial quarters as public companies. Anything less is a confidence killer.
Rosetta seemed to be making all of the right moves. It soared after going public at $18 a share back in April. It topped Wall Street's profit targets in its first quarterly report as a public company. It also turned heads last month, when it charged Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) with trademark infringement and sued the search giant, on the basis that it was profiting from Rosetta's brand.
However, now the push for a secondary offering so close to the IPO appears flat-out greedy. The secondary was being withdrawn this morning, and that move is just another alert for the market. Rosetta Stone just wasn't ready for prime time.
The whole thing is a disappointment, in all of the 30 languages that Rosetta covers.
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