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LivePerson Inc. Earnings: Looking for Signs of Life

By Rick Munarriz – Nov 10, 2016 at 12:14PM

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The cloud-based chat support specialist posts another year-over-year decline in quarterly revenue.

Image source: LivePerson.

Revenue keeps going the wrong way at LivePerson (LPSN -10.33%). The provider of high-tech customer support reported quarterly results after Tuesday's market close, and it was another sluggish performance.

Revenue clocked in at $54.5 million for the third quarter, at the midpoint of its earlier guidance but short of earlier top-line results. The web-based chat support specialist used to be the portrait of growth consistency until a few quarters ago. It had come through with 51 consecutive quarters of sequential top-line upticks before that streak ended early last year. It also naturally had a long run of year-over-year growth, but that ended earlier this year after spanning more than 13 years.

LivePerson's top-line showing declined 10.3% since the prior year in its latest quarter, its worst showing as a public company. Its flagship business is in a funk. LivePerson's business operations that entail providing companies with a chat-based support platform experienced a 12% slide, a problem since it accounts for nearly 93% of LivePerson's revenue. Presto Express -- LivePerson's consumer-to-consumer offering that provides premium one-on-one advice is growing, but obviously too small to move the needle at this point. 

LivePerson closed out the quarter with a loss of $0.05 a share. Its guidance called for a smaller deficit.  

Looking ahead

LivePerson talks up the healthy volume of new deals it's signing and how its trailing 12-month revenue per enterprise and mid-market customers stands at record highs, but the numbers don't lie. Something's not right with the popularity of its platform as revenue goes the wrong way.

The good news is that its guidance for the current quarter calls for a return to both profitability and sequential revenue growth. It's eyeing a modest adjusted profit of $0.01 to $0.02 a share. It's targeting $55.8 million to $56.8 million, well short of the $59.5 million it delivered a year earlier, but investors will gladly settle for sequential top-line growth and decelerating declines on a year-over-year basis.

LivePerson continues to make progress in migrating its customers to its LiveEngage "intelligent engagement" offering, as 80% of its accounts are now on the platform that incorporates chat, voice, and content delivery support. It continues to navigate the shift from desktop to mobile. 

The stock barely moved on Wednesday following the report, as its larger than expected loss during the third quarter ate into its reasonably upbeat guidance for the fourth quarter. LivePerson will keep signing new deals, pushing its Rolodex into LiveEngage, and getting existing customers to spend more. These are all welcome developments but the turnaround won't be complete until top-line growth actually turns around.

Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends LivePerson. 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.

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