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Why Upwork Stock Soared 23% in February

By John Ballard – Updated Apr 11, 2019 at 2:28PM

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Investors love the company's long-term growth prospects, as evidenced by its latest quarterly earnings results.

What happened

Shares of Upwork (UPWK 4.40%) gained 22.7% in value last month, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Upwork reported fourth-quarter earnings results on Feb. 28, which showed continued growth on the top line and improvement in profitability. While Upwork hasn't reported a consistent profit yet, investors likely bidded up the shares last month with an eye on the company's long-term opportunity to make working with external talent a more streamlined process for companies.

A young woman working on a computer in a home office.


So what

Upwork's latest round of earnings results continues to validate investors' optimism. Revenue was up 23% year over year to $67.3 million for the fourth quarter, ahead of management's guidance. For the full year, revenue increased 25% to $253.4 million. 

The company reported a net loss of $5.4 million, or $0.05 per share, in the quarter, but that's a significant improvement over the $11.7 million loss, or $0.35 per share, in the year-ago quarter. Additionally, adjusted EBITDA was $3.6 million in the recent quarter, up from a loss of $1.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Other key operating metrics looked strong as well, including client spend retention improving from 99% in the year-ago quarter to 108% in the latest quarter and core clients growing 22% year over year to 105,000 as of the end of the fourth quarter. 

CEO Stephane Kasriel said: "We closed a pivotal year for Upwork, punctuated by exceeding our fourth-quarter expectations for both revenue and adjusted EBITDA. I'm proud to have met our objectives for both the quarter and the year." 

Check out the latest earnings call transcript for Upwork.

Now what

For 2019, management is calling for revenue in the range of $298 million to $304 million, representing year-over-year growth of 19% at the midpoint. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be between breakeven and 1% of revenue. 

Management is focused on growing the business through new features and providing a quality mobile experience. Also, Upwork has a valuable partnership with Microsoft to integrate some of the software giant's product suites into Upwork. 

In a statement, Kasriel said, "With macro-trends such as the skills shortages businesses are facing and the rise of remote work, plus our investments in product innovation, brand awareness and sales infrastructure, we remain emboldened by our long-term opportunity." 

Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. John Ballard has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. The Motley Fool recommends Upwork. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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