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The Trade Desk Picks Up the Pace in Q1

By Rick Munarriz – May 11, 2018 at 9:14AM

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The programmatic advertising speedster moves higher after a well-received first quarter, posting its first period of accelerating revenue growth in a year.

Growth is starting to accelerate at The Trade Desk (TTD -2.60%). Shares of the fast-growing programmatic advertising specialist initially moved sharply higher after the company posted better-than-expected financial results after Thursday's market close. 

Revenue soared 61% to hit $85.7 million in its first quarter, blasting through the $73 million -- or just 37% top-line growth -- that it was forecasting for the period back in late February. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) more than tripled, up 202% to hit $18.9 million. The Trade Desk was only modeling $7.5 million in adjusted EBITDA with its earlier guidance.

Adjusted earnings nearly doubled, rising 96% to $15.3 million or $0.34 a share. The Trade Desk has never offered up bottom-line guidance, but it's safe to say that no one thought it would earn more than twice the $7.5 million it was targeting for adjusted EBITDA for the quarter less than three months ago. 

The Trade Desk at its trading debut in 2016.

Image source: The Trade Desk.

Marketing matters

The Trade Desk is proving that even the stodgy advertising industry can be disrupted and in the process create a monster growth stock. Shares of The Trade Desk have more than tripled since going public at $16 in 2016 as of Thursday's close, and that was before the post-earnings pop. 

The method to the magic at The Trade Desk is that the demand-side platform uses gobs of data and its proprietary targeting algorithm to allocate marketing budgets across display, mobile, and video advertising campaigns. It works. The Trade Desk continues to woo brands big and small to its platform. Customer retention is a given, as The Trade Desk that kept at least 95% of its clients for 17 consecutive quarters.

The Trade Desk isn't standing still. As impressive as 61% growth may be -- breaking a streak of the three previous quarters of decelerating year-over-year growth -- some segments are growing even faster. Total mobile, mobile video, and mobile in-app revenue surged 95%, 160%, and 110%, respectively. Newer channels including connected TV and audio are growing at even headier clips. The Trade Desk also talked up its gains internationally, a big deal since the lion's share of its revenue continues to be generated closer to home. 

The Trade Desk is naturally hiking its earlier guidance. It now sees revenue of at least $433 million for all of 2018, up from its earlier goal of $403 million. It's now gunning for $133 million of adjusted EBITDA, a decent upgrade from the $117 million it was forecasting in February. Guidance for the current quarter calls for $30 million in adjusted EBITDA and $103 million in revenue. The Trade Desk and its data-fueled approach is resonating with marketers, and the proof is in the monster growth. 

Rick Munarriz has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends The Trade Desk. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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