Groupon (GRPN -2.94%) broke the buck last month, as its shares fell below the $1 mark during the coronavirus-fueled correction. It took nearly four weeks of closing south of a buck to bounce back, but the daily-deals pioneer finally got above the $1 mark on Wednesday. It inched higher again on Thursday.
Harping over a dollar bill may not seem like a big deal, but it matters on Wall Street. If a Nasdaq-listed stock trades below $1 for 30 consecutive days, the exchange will send out a deficiency notice, the first step in the delisting process. Groupon cut it close, but it isn't likely to be a concern for too much longer.
Let's make a deal
Groupon shareholders will get to vote on a proposed reverse stock split in June. If approved, every 10 or 12 shares will be swapped out for a new share at 10 or 12 times the price. It's a zero-sum game, but reverse splits have historically been disappointments. Most companies going this route continue to see their shares shrink, but that's likely the result of public companies with fundamentals that were already backpedaling.
I like Groupon's chances of staying above the $1 mark even without a reverse split this summer. The company isn't perfect. There's a lot not to like here between the 16 consecutive quarters of revenue declines, the recent executive shuffle, and the lack of open local businesses that turn to Groupon to deliver leads through discounted pre-paid vouchers. But there's also a silver lining to all of those shortcomings.
Revenue has been sliding, but that's a strategic decision as Groupon pulls out of unprofitable markets. CEO Rich Williams stepping down last month may not seem like a good look, but is that really a problem given the stock's performance during his five-year run? The decision to move on from Groupon Goods, its marketplace for physical goods, may seem like bad timing given the COVID-19 interruption of its flagship business, but it turns out the death sentence has been commuted.
The out-of-favor company revealed earlier this month that it will keep Groupon Goods around for now to help offset the interruption of its original business. It will eventually shift that business into a third-party marketplace model instead of eliminating it entirely.
Things weren't very inspiring for Groupon even before the coronavirus crisis slammed the brakes on its bread-and-butter business. Revenue plummeted 23% for the final three months of last year relative to the prior year's holiday quarter. The good news is that Groupon isn't going anywhere. It's still flush with cash, and analysts see a return to profitability next year.
Groupon's offer of discounted local experiences also seems like the perfect model for when the economy starts to reopen without our wallets following suit. Businesses will be hungry for leads; consumers will be hungry for deals. Groupon will be there as the bargain-bin matchmaker.
Despite the recovery that finds the shares more than doubling off of last month's lows, the stock would have to more than double again to get back to where it was when the year began. Reverse split or not, Groupon will have more chances to get this right.