It's been a good time to be long Roku (ROKU -2.76%). Shares of the company behind the namesake streaming hub hit another all-time high on Tuesday. The stock is up 42% this young year, and has more than tripled since the midpoint of last year. Things are about to get even more volatile in the near term. Roku will report its fourth-quarter results this week.
Expectations are understandably high heading into Thursday afternoon's earnings report. The stock has more than doubled since Roku served up blowout third-quarter results on Nov. 5. It may have to repeat the feat to keep the upticks coming, but Roku's no stranger to living up to the hype.
There's something good on TV
We know that Roku was in good shape heading into the fourth quarter. Net revenue soared 73% for the third quarter, its headiest year-over-year growth since going public in late 2017. There will be some deceleration in Thursday's report. Roku's guidance three months ago was calling for top-line growth in the mid-40% range.
Wall Street's a little hungrier, eyeing 49.6% in revenue growth. Analysts know that Roku is conservative with its crystal ball readings. However, there is a good reason why top-line increases have almost always decelerated in the fourth quarter. Roku's strongest revenue growth has come from its high-margin platform that is now accounting for the lion's share of its business. The rub with the fourth quarter is that holiday shoppers stock up on Roku streaming hardware. Player revenue sandbags platform revenue. Revenue growth between the third and fourth quarter has decelerated in two of its first three years as a public company. Revenue growth has accelerated in the first quarter in all three of those years.
Analysts see a small loss for the quarter. Roku surprised the market by posting a profit last time out, but it's dangerous to bank on a repeat performance. It doesn't really matter right now anyway. Roku is valued by Wall Street more for its revenue, subscriber, and average revenue per user gains than what's going on with its bottom line.
Roku has made the most of the new normal. It's up to 46 million active accounts by the end of September, and that growing audience has been captive through the pandemic. Ad revenue and usage is on the rise. Cords will keep getting cut. The shows and digital films that your friends are talking about will continue to be unavailable on linear television. Roku has taken on much larger tech titans and media stocks, and it's winning. It's going to take a special report to make the stock double again heading into the following quarter, and anything short of a blowout may find the shares hitting the reverse button in Friday's trading.
Roku has a lot to prove this week, but as a 33-bagger since its IPO in the fall of 2017 bulls know that it's up for the task. Buckle up for another wild week in the life of Roku.