Yelp (NYSE:YELP) reports third-quarter results this Wednesday after the bell, and it's no surprise the market is optimistic. The local business review specialist has already beaten analysts' estimates with two solid quarterly reports so far this year. Nonetheless, as of this writing, Yelp stock has declined around 2% so far in 2014.
This time, Wall Street is looking for revenue to grow 61.8% year over year to $99 million, which represents the high end of Yelp's previous guidance, and would mark its 11th consecutive quarter of 60%-plus growth. Meanwhile, earnings are expected to come in at $0.03 per share -- a solid improvement over the $0.04 per share loss Yelp turned in this time last year.
Yelp is focused on the top line...
That would also represent Yelp's second ever profitable quarter as a publicly traded company. The first occurred three months ago, when Yelp achieved a $0.04 per share profit despite sales and marketing spending sitting at a high 54% of revenue last quarter. Product development costs also stood around 17% of revenue. To be fair, though, it makes sense for Yelp to grab as much market share as possible by investing for top-line growth this early in the game. Previously, management cited its "strong performance and large addressable market" to justify telling investors to expect more of the same going forward.
...which is driven by mobile and local biz
To understand where that revenue is coming from, investors should first keep an eye on growth in overall monthly unique visitors, which last quarter climbed 27% year over year to 138 million. Mobile users grew even faster, rising 51% to 68 million. Perhaps most notably, management later stated almost 40% of all new reviews and more than half Yelp's total ad impressions came from mobile devices. Given the outsized growth in smart mobile devices worldwide -- especially in Japan, a notoriously mobile-centric country where Yelp launched in April -- it's reasonable to expect the trend toward monetizing mobile to continue.
In addition, look for the businesses themselves to continue embracing Yelp's platform as a way to engage users. Management still doesn't provide specific guidance here, but for perspective, last quarter, active paying local business accounts -- including those from Yelp's acquisition of online reservation specialist SeatMe last year -- climbed over 55% to roughly 79,900.
Will Big G hurt international growth?
That's not to say Yelp is without its challenges. Take international traffic, for instance, which grew 80% year over year last quarter to 31 million unique monthly visitors, but actually saw a month-over-month decline in June because of algorithmic changes from Google in late-May. Still, Yelp did note its domestic traffic increased despite Google's update, and it insisted its continued focus on high-quality content would ultimately yield positive results overseas.
What's more, keep in mind Yelp launched new sites in both Chile and Hong Kong over the past two months, bringing its operating scope to a total of 29 countries. If those launches were positively received by their respective local communities, it should go a long way toward helping Yelp endure any near-term SEO weakness.
Don't forget guidance
Finally, the market will undoubtedly judge Yelp at least in part on how management expects to close the year. Analysts, on average, want to see fourth-quarter earnings and revenue of $0.06 per share and $110.95 million, respectively, the latter of which would actually represent a slight deceleration in growth to 57%. It remains to be seen whether Yelp is interested in living up to those earnings estimates given its current investment mode.