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LivePerson Is Like a Beating Drum

By Rick Munarriz - May 3, 2019 at 12:03PM

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The cloud-based chat support specialist delivers record revenue, and growth should accelerate later this year.

It's hard to find a company that's been as steady as LivePerson (LPSN 1.38%) when it comes to recent revenue growth. The provider of high-tech customer support solutions announced its first-quarter results on Thursday afternoon, and for the fifth time in a row, we're seeing top-line gains clock in between 13.7% and 14.5%. 

Revenue is checking in at $66.4 million through the first three months of this year, climbing exactly 14% to fit right in with the tight growth window that investors have seen play out for more than a year. LivePerson was targeting $65.75 billion and $66.75 million on the top line for the quarter in its previous report, so it landed just above the midpoint of its guidance.

LivePerson's brand-to-consumer messaging across different devices.

Image source: LivePerson.

Keeping the streaks alive

Rattling off five consecutive quarters of double-digit revenue growth is something that we haven't seen at LivePerson since 2015, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. LivePerson expects the streak to continue and finally break out of its tight top-line increase range -- to the upside -- later this year.

The news isn't as kind on the bottom line, where the red ink is getting worse. LivePerson's loss widened to $18.9 million in the first quarter, its biggest deficit in more than three years. There are some one-time items baked into that number, but it's still a larger loss on an adjusted basis. 

LivePerson's making big investments in championing what it calls conversational commerce, using a combination of artificial intelligence and bots with human agents to deliver results that it claims are four times more efficient than legacy voice support. The payoff should come soon, as it sees revenue growing as high as 20% by the fourth quarter of this year and continuing to rise into 2020. 

Investors don't seem to mind the trade-off of widening losses for the sake of headier revenue bursts. The stock was pennies away from hitting another all-time high on Thursday, and the shares have nearly tripled since the start of last year. 

Guidance for the current quarter calls for revenue to rise 13% to 14%, landing between $69.5 and $70.5 million. It risks landing below its recent tight range of top-line growth, but we already know that it's going to be stepping on the gas later this year. LivePerson is reiterating most of its guidance for all of 2019, including a 14% to 17% rise in revenue to hit $284.5 million to $291.5 million this year. Reported earnings and adjusted operating income will continue to be negative. 

The stock did open lower on Friday following the news, but LivePerson continues to do a lot of things right. It continues to woo new clients to its platform, including a major airline, cable company, and a couple of international telcos during the quarter. LivePerson's steady growth is impressive, and we've now seen sequential revenue growth move higher for eight consecutive quarters. This isn't the jaw-dropping run of 51 consecutive quarters of sequential top-line gains that LivePerson saw snapped four years ago, but double-digit year-over-year growth that is expected to accelerate as the year plays out will keep padding the current streak. 

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