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Shopify Reassures Investors With Blockbuster Growth

By Danny Vena - Feb 21, 2018 at 9:45AM

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Shopify continues to ride the e-commerce tailwind to greater and greater heights.

After refuting disparaging claims made by a short-seller last quarter, investors have watched Shopify's (SHOP 0.54%) share price recover, only to achieve new all-time highs. The e-commerce platform provider had been producing impressive growth, making it a target for such accusations.

Investors were looking to Shopify's fourth-quarter 2017 financial report for reassurances that their confidence was warranted -- and they were not disappointed.

Growth by any other name

Shopify reported total revenue of $222.8 million, which rocketed 71% higher year over year, continuing its torrid growth. Adjusted earnings per share came in at $0.15, compared to no profit in the prior-year quarter. This exceeded analysts' consensus estimates of revenue of $208 million and adjusted earnings of $0.05 per share. 

A laptop, tablet, and smartphone all displaying the Shopify platform.

Shopify continues its stellar growth. Image source: Shopify.

This was the 11th consecutive quarter that Shopify has produced year-over-year revenue growth that has exceeded 70%, and the company now boasts more than 600,000 merchants.

The company generated an operating loss of $6.1 million, or 3% of revenue, compared to a loss of $9.3 million, or 7% of revenue in the prior-year quarter. Shopify's net loss for the quarter was $3.0 million, which resulted in a loss per share of $0.03, better than the $0.10 loss it achieved in the prior-year period.

Shopify's outlook had been for revenue in a range of $206 million to $208 million, resulting in an operating loss in a range of $12.5 million to $14.5 million, so the company exceeded its own robust forecast as well.

Everywhere you look

Subscription solutions grew to $93.9 million, a jump of 67% over the prior-year quarter. Merchant solutions, which includes revenue related to shipping and payments, soared 74% year over year to $128.9 million. Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) hit $29.9 million, up 62% year over year. Recurring revenue is key, as it provides stable, predictable income and is widely regarded as the most important metric in any subscription-based business.

Shopify Plus, its enterprise solution, contributed $6.3 million or 21% of MRR, up from 17% in the same period last year. The continued adoption of its platform by larger businesses gives the company a fertile field that will drive future growth.

Shopify demonstrated its ongoing success across a wide variety of metrics. Gross merchandise volume (GMV) crested $9.1 billion for the first time, up 65% year over year, while gross payments volume (GPV) of $3.5 billion grew 59% over the prior-year quarter, representing 39% of GMV.

The company's lending arm, Shopify Capital, made $39.7 million in working capital loans, up an astonishing 170% year over year. The company has now loaned over $170 million since its debut in April 2016. Russ Jones, Shopify's CFO commented on the results:

That our merchants sold more in the fourth quarter than in all of 2015, achieving one billion dollars of this in just four days, speaks to how far we have come in the past few years. Our leadership role in commerce, together with the scale we have achieved, position us well to invest in our next phase of growth: one marked by expansion of our capabilities upmarket and down, in retail, in our ecosystem, and internationally.

A look ahead

For the upcoming first quarter, Shopify expects revenue in a range of $198 million to $202 million, which would represent 57% growth at the midpoint of its guidance. The company also forecast an adjusted operating loss in a range of $6 million to $8 million, significantly higher than the $4.3 million adjusted operating loss from the prior-year quarter.

Shopify's revenue forecast exceeded analysts' consensus estimates of $195.6, but its projected operating loss was much worse than the $1 million loss expected by analysts. This likely explains the market's somewhat tepid reaction to Shopify's stellar results.

Investors shouldn't let the market's apathetic response dim their enthusiasm for Shopify. If you'll excuse the use of a tired metaphor, the company is firing on all cylinders.

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