Many of the Chinese dot-coms to post quarterly results last week came through with strong showings, but Vipshop Holdings (VIPS -1.83%) wasn't one of them. Shares of the online discounter of brand apparel and accessories slumped 11.7% last week, pulled under after a poorly received third-quarter report.
Net revenue shot 38% higher to $1.8 billion -- in line with expectations -- and adjusted earnings growth of 32% to $89.3 million, or $0.15 a share, was just ahead of where Wall Street pros were perched. However, that was Vipshop's weakest year-over-year top-line growth as a public company.
It won't be the worst showing for long, though. Vipshop's guidance calls for net revenue growth to slow to between 30% and 33% for the current quarter. Analysts see growth slowing to a 28% clip in 2017.
Searching for new growth outlets
Vipshop isn't standing still. It recently acquired Pui Fu, a third-party payment license holder. That may seem like an odd purchase, but Vipshop expects Pui Fu to help improve the security of customer information and lower its processing costs. More importantly for Vipshop's purposes, it will also help the online discounter retain payment information that it can use to spur big-data analysis.
Big data is an area Vipshop is emphasizing these days, and for good reason. The company doesn't have a shortage of customers, as 46 million different customers have placed an order through Vipshop's platform over the past 12 months. The better it gets to know the pattens and shopping behavior of its clients, the more it can sell to them. Revenue growth didn't keep up with its active customer count, so clearly there's room for improvement on that front.
Vipshop is also trying to make its site stickier through content marketing programs. It recently rolled out live broadcasting channels and shopping guides. It used to be that video wasn't a necessary tool for an online retailer to stand out, but the growing fascination with clip culture makes it a no-brainer at this point.
Another thing Vipshop is doing is broadening its reach. Orders outside China have grown 50% over the past year. These transactions represent just 5% of the gross merchandise volume at Vipshop, but it should expand as the e-tailer adds more foreign brands to its inventory of deals.
Vipshop had a three-year run as an investment for the ages. The stock's gains between its debut in early 2012 and 2014 clocked in at 174%, 370%, and 133%, respectively. You won't find too many stocks that more than double for three consecutive years. However, Vipshop stock has come down to earth since then, slipping 22% last year. It's now gone on to shave another 21% of its value in 2016.
The silver lining is that Vipshop's growing profits over the past two years make it more reasonably priced. The stock is now trading at just 14 times next year's profit target. If any of its many initiatives begin to pay off and growth starts to accelerate, it would be a feeding frenzy for bulls, flocking to a former market darling at a more than reasonable valuation.
Last week's report wasn't great, but the market's disappointed reaction may be creating a great buying opportunity.