What happened

Quotient Technology (QUOT) shareholders lost ground last month. Their stock fell 28% in May compared to a 0.55% uptick in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The decline only erased part of the short-term gains investors have seen in this direct marketing specialist. The stock is still up roughly 20% so far in 2021.

A woman checks her phone while shopping.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Investors weren't satisfied with the company's early May quarterly report even though it contained mostly good news about the business. Quotient's sales were up 17% to $153 million. That marked a slowdown from the prior quarter's 20% increase, but it was still above the forecast the management had issued back in early February.

Other highlights of the quarter included Quotient's winning a handful of additional high-profile retailing customers while bulking up its portfolio of offerings to include complementary services like in-lane promotions. "Q1 was another strong quarter as brands deploy[ed] more of their increased spend on our platform for their promotions, advertising, and shopper marketing," management said in a shareholder letter.

Quotient wasn't profitable in the period, though, and net loss landed at $13 million as the company shelled out more cash for sales and marketing and tech development.

Now what

Management said it's seeing early signs of strength for the fiscal second quarter, and it backed up those words with an aggressive outlook that calls for sales to rise nearly 50% to over $120 million in Q2. Quotient also raised its annual outlook.

Yet even with that boost, this company is targeting sales of just over $500 million, representing a tiny fraction of the industry. That small footprint raises the risk of an operating stumble or industry slowdown severely impacting its business. It's also unclear how the company's prospects might be harmed by the latest changes to Apple's operating system that allow users to block data sharing and advertising tracking. These issues, combined with the stock's rally earlier in the year, had investors feeling more cautious last month.

It's possible that Quotient will thrive through the rest of 2021, especially as rising prices at retailers lift interest in sales and promotions. But shareholders can still expect further wild swings in this volatile stock while management works to build a sustainably profitable business.