It's been easy come, easy go for Vipshop Holdings (NYSE:VIPS) shareholders. The same stock that shot higher two weeks ago on strong online shopping trends in China gave it all away last week after posting mixed financial results. Last week's 16.8% slide follows a 19.4% pop the week before, resulting in a modest dip of 0.9% over the past two weeks masking the wild volatility.
The Chinese online discounter of brand-name apparel came through with another period of healthy growth last week. Net revenue rose 27.6% to $2.3 billion, at the high end of its earlier range targeting 24% to 28% in top-line growth. However, Vipshop's guidance for the current quarter calls for decelerating revenue growth. A pair of analysts would go on to lower their price targets on the stock following the report.
Vipshop doesn't provide profit guidance, but the $0.14 a share it posted in adjusted earnings matched Wall Street's forecast. The former dot-com darling used to routinely smoke analyst income targets, but now it has failed to exceed expectations in back-to-back quarters. Vipshop sees revenue climbing 20% to 25% for the fourth quarter. Even if it lands at the high end of that range, it would be Vipshop's weakest showing as a public company. It would also be the sixth consecutive quarter of decelerating year-over-year revenue growth.
Alex Yao at JPMorgan would go on to lower his price target on the stock from $13 to $10. He was concerned with what he considers to be weak user growth. The number of active customers for the trailing 12 months grew by just 22% to 60.5 million, up marginally from 58.5 million for the trailing four quarters in the second quarter. If investors think that 20% to 25% growth in the current quarter is bad, Yao sees top-line growth of just 18% for all of next year. Heightened competition among online apparel retailers and Vipshop's slowing user growth are concerns, but Yao is still bullish on the stock. He feels that it will help offset some of the softness by getting its customers to spend more.
Vicky Wu at CBCI lowered her price goal from $9.80 to $9.50. She also downgraded the stock, taking her rating from buy to hold.
This isn't Vipshop at its best. Growth is clearly slowing, and earnings are slowing even faster as margins contract. However, the platform's popularity is still growing. Vipshop booked 74 million orders during the third quarter, 23% ahead of where it was a year earlier.
There's a price to be paid when you disappoint during earnings season. Vipshop stock took a 13% the week it fell short with its second-quarter results. We're now at back-to-back double-digit percentage slides the week it reports financial results. The silver lining is that the stock is cheap relative to China's online speedsters as well as growth stocks in general. Vipshop is trading for less than 11 times next year's profit forecast, a bargain if it's able to live up to those expectations -- but a recipe for heartbreak if it falls short again.