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Can TripAdvisor Bounce Back From Last Week's 20% Drop?

By Rick Munarriz – Updated Nov 14, 2016 at 8:10AM

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RBC Capital and Piper Jaffray lower their price targets on the travel portal after a weak quarterly report.

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Not every trip is a vacation. Shares of TripAdvisor (TRIP -2.07%) shed nearly a fifth of their value last week, plunging 19.85% after posting disappointing quarterly results. TripAdvisor fell short of Wall Street expectations, and a couple of analysts slashed their price targets on the stock.

Revenue rose a mere 1% to hit $421 million for the third quarter. TripAdvisor points out that the uptick would've been 3% on a constant currency basis, but even that's pretty unimpressive growth. The silver lining here is that TripAdvisor's top line had actually checked in with modest declines in each of the two previous quarters, but, again, that's not going to wow growth stock investors. 

It's a problematic showing, and a 10% decline in its click-based advertising and instant booking revenue -- accounting for nearly half of TripAdvisor's business -- has to be sending shockwaves when it comes to the site's business model as it tries to court potential travelers. 

The news didn't improve on the bottom line. TripAdvisor's adjusted profit of $0.53 a share was flat with last year's showing. That was actually just ahead of the $0.52 a share that analysts were projecting. TripAdvisor had fallen short in the two previous quarters. However, with revenue falling well short of the $436.3 million that Wall Street pros were targeting, it's easy to see why the stock moved lower. 

Grate expectations

TripAdvisor can argue that the popularity of its platform is still growing. It reached a monthly average of 390 million unique visitors during the quarter, 11% higher than a year earlier. The number of user reviews and opinions grew nearly 50%. However, the lackluster revenue growth paints a more troublesome picture.

At least two analysts tempered their enthusiasm on the stock's potential following the report. RBC Capital Markets' Mark Mahaney slashed his price target on TripAdvisor stock from $55 to $50. Mahaney is concerned that TripAdvisor's investments in growth initiatives will weigh on margins in the year ahead. 

Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson remains bullish on the stock, but he's shaving back his price target from $90 to $70. Olson acknowledges that the integration of the Instant Book transaction platform has had its initial hiccups, but he's still bullish about its potential. He feels that it will improve the monetization of TripAdvisor's hotel-researching visitors, something that we know hasn't been living up to the initial hype of the transactions-based update. 

TripAdvisor's stock hit a new three-year low on Friday. Other portals are growing faster, and in the eyes of growth stock investors those are sizing up as the better plays. TripAdvisor has fallen a long way since peaking in the springtime of 2014, and it's going to have restore its shine as a growth stock if it wants to revisit those triple-digit levels.   

Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends TripAdvisor. 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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