Online car-shopping service TrueCar (NASDAQ:TRUE) reported on Nov. 7 that it lost $7.7 million in the third quarter of 2019, versus a $6.3 million loss in the third quarter of 2018.

Adjusted for stock option expenses and one-time items, TrueCar had a net profit of $500,000, or less than $0.01 per share. That compares with income on the same basis of $4.3 million, or $0.04 per share, in the year-ago period.

TrueCar's revenue and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) both exceeded the high ends of the guidance ranges the company provided in August. Shares rose sharply in after-hours trading after the results were released.

The raw numbers

Metric Q3 2019 Change vs. Q3 2018
Revenue $90.6 million (3.2%)
Vehicles purchased (units) 267,821 (0.1%)
Adjusted EBITDA $5.9 million (41%)
Net income (loss) ($7.7 million) Decline of $1.4 million
Adjusted net income $500,000 (88%)
Net income (loss) per share ($0.07) Decline of $0.04
Adjusted net income per share $0.00 Decline of $0.04

Data source: TrueCar. Non-GAAP (adjusted) figures exclude employee stock option expenses and nonrecurring costs.

What happened at TrueCar in the third quarter?

  • Non-GAAP (adjusted) expenses, or expenses other than employee stock option costs, were $84.7 million, up sightly from $83.6 million a year ago.
  • TrueCar's website had an average of 7.7 million unique visitors per month, down 4% from 8 million per month in the third quarter of 2018.
  • A total of 267,821 vehicles were purchased via TrueCar's service, down slightly from a year ago.
  • Monetization, or the average fee collected by TrueCar from dealers for each vehicle sold via its service, was $320 versus $331 a year ago.
  • Average monthly transaction revenue per franchise dealer was $1,786, down 5% from $1,878 in the third quarter of 2018.
  • TrueCar had 12,711 franchise dealer partners as of the end of the third quarter, up slightly from 12,549 a year ago.
The glass doors to TrueCar's offices in Santa Monica, California.

Image source: TrueCar.

What TrueCar's CEO had to say

Mike Darrow became the company's interim CEO after the abrupt retirement of predecessor Chip Perry in June. Darrow said the company is on track to launch its overhauled site and reintroduce its brand to consumers.

"We are laser-focused on our near-term business goals, and energized by our upcoming rebrand and the rapid product innovation that is enabling the launch of a new and evolved consumer experience," Darrow said. "I can truly sense a change in the momentum here within the walls of TrueCar."

Looking ahead: TrueCar raised its guidance

TrueCar cut its full-year guidance in August. But Chief Financial Officer Noel Watson raised the company's end-of-year guidance ranges slightly, saying that TrueCar is "getting on the right track" after hitting the upper ends of its third-quarter guidance ranges.

Here's what investors should now expect for 2019:

  • Revenue between $351 million and $353 million (prior guidance: between $345 million and $350 million; 2018 result: $353.6 million).
  • Adjusted EBITDA between $15 million and $17 million (prior guidance: between $10 million and $14 million; 2018 result: $32.9 million).

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