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Why CarGurus Is Plunging 24% Despite Topping Estimates

By Daniel Miller - Feb 14, 2020 at 1:15PM

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CarGurus turned in a strong fourth quarter, but disappointing guidance left investors wanting more.

What happened

Shares of CarGurus (CARG 1.45%), a global online automotive marketplace, are plunging more than 24% lower Friday morning despite the company beating analysts' top- and bottom-line estimates during the fourth quarter.

So what

Starting from the top, revenue increased 25% to $158.2 million compared to the prior year, easily topping analysts' estimates of $154.6 million. Fourth-quarter adjusted earnings per share checked in at $0.17, also topping analysts' estimates of $0.13 per share.

"CarGurus finished 2019 with a strong fourth quarter," said Langley Steinert, founder and CEO of CarGurus, in a press release. "Our U.S. marketplace saw continued traffic and lead growth in the fourth quarter, and for the full-year 2019 we generated over 65 million connections and over 38 million leads, supporting what we believe is industry-leading ROI for our paying dealers." 

Man pointing at online car buying opportunity.

Image source: Getty Images.

If you're wondering why CarGurus stock is cratering Friday despite topping estimates and reporting a solid quarter, it's likely due to management's disappointing guidance. Management expects revenue between $156.5 million and $159.5 million for 2020, below analysts' estimates of $163.6 million. Management also expects 2020 earnings per share between $0.50 to $0.55 per share, well below analysts' estimates of $0.66 per share.

Now what

Uncertainty seems to be weighing on CarGurus, and much of the broader automotive industry, with concerns regarding dealerships' inventory, digital trends, margins, and sales. That uncertainty isn't likely to fade anytime soon, but for long-term investors the company is still taking steps forward as it rolled out a second consumer financing partner, continues to cross sell multiple products and services to more dealers, and is efficiently scaling its international business. It was a strong quarter for CarGurus, but it's difficult to be optimistic for much of the automotive industry in the near term.

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CarGurus, Inc. Stock Quote
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