Shares of Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) surged last Friday following an earnings report that saw the daily deals giant exceed analysts' expectations. Although Groupon shares are still down more than 37% this year, shares are up more than 20% since late last week.
During Groupon's earnings call, CEO Eric Lefkofsky elaborated on the company's current initiatives. Below are five of Lefkofsky's most important quotes from that call.
Groupon's local business returns to growth
Groupon's management set three primary objectives for 2014, one of which was the acceleration of its growth. At one time, Groupon's daily deals business made it one of the fastest growing companies in history -- that growth attracted attention and fueled participation in its late 2011 IPO. But in the years since, growth has stalled, and Groupon shares have struggled.. Yet, Groupon's management appears to be succeeding:
After three quarters in a row of slow growth, our North American local billings growth accelerated in the third quarter from 1.8% [in the second quarter] to 10% [this quarter], achieving our target of double-digit growth by year-end.
A more profitable goods business
In addition to its local deals, Groupon has been working its way into e-commerce, building a secondary goods business to compliment its core coupons. Unfortunately, its goods business has done little to boost its bottom line, as Groupon has struggled with shipping and fulfillment costs. Though it still lags behind other e-commerce giants, Groupon is making progress.
Our second priority was to improve our goods margins, particularly in North America...We've made continued progress, with gross margins in North America in line with our double-digit target, reaching 10% [this quarter].
Groupon is considering a partial spinoff of Ticket Monster
Last year, Groupon acquired Korean-based Ticket Monster in a bid to gain a foothold in Southeast Asia. Since then, Ticket Monster has experienced rapid growth, outpacing Groupon's expectations. Perhaps in an effort to raise cash, or attract more growth-orientated investors, Groupon is considering a partial spinoff of the company.
Asian businesses are growing at an accelerated pace, driven by [Ticket Monster]. During the third quarter [...] billings grew over 60% year-over-year, as that business continues to thrive and gain market share [...] As a result of the significant growth opportunities that exist [...] we've hired financial advisors to help us evaluate range of financing and strategic alternatives [...] [But] we're not looking to sell all of [it].
An app-based business
Groupon's business is continuing its mobile transition. In its earnings release, Groupon defined mobile as representing more than half of its business -- during its earnings call, Lefkofsky elaborated:
Our percent of mobile transactions continued to increase [...] including some countries that are approaching a mix that is well above 65% mobile. Spend for customers who buy through mobile remains significantly higher than for those who don't, and this past quarter, we were selected to be a launch partner for Apple's new Apple Pay product, which allows us to integrate with many of the hundreds of millions of credit cards they have on file.
The transition away from daily email blasts was a headwind for Groupon initially, but the widespread adoption of its mobile app appears to be benefiting the company. Its use of Apple Pay could ease check-out and entice more consumers to buy, though it remains to be seen if it will have any effect.
Groupon's answer to SEO
In an effort to raise its profile with search engine users, Groupon has built Pages -- a platform that gives local businesses and its merchant partners dedicated landing pages on Groupon's website. Groupon introduced Pages during its last earnings call, but didn't roll it out in earnest until this quarter. According to Lefkofsky, Pages is doing well:
To date, we've built more than seven million Pages in North America and have released over 500,000 of them to be indexed, which will grow significantly with the roll-out of each new city. In just the past few months, we've seen strong consumer interaction with pages. We've collected and displayed more than 20 million ratings and tips for our consumers to read, letting customers know how many people recommend a particular merchant. In addition, over 400,000 people have begun following our merchants or have hit request-a-deal.