Zeltiq Aesthetics (ZLTQ) continues to come through with strong sales growth, robust profitability, and a welcome habit of jacking up its guidance every three months.
The company behind the CoolSculpting machines that freeze fat cells in a painless and non-invasive procedure posted another strong quarter earlier this week. Revenue clocked in at $61.2 million. That's a sequential dip from the record $64.4 million that it recorded during the second quarter, but there is seasonality to the model. Zeltiq's top line also took a sequential step down in 2012 and 2014.
Zeltiq shipped 337 new CoolSculpting machines during the period, bringing its installed base to 4,247 fat cell-freezing contraptions. That was good for nearly half -- or $29.3 million -- of Zeltiq's total revenue, but the real growth these days has been coming from consumable revenue that clocked in at $31.9 million. This is the second quarter in a row that the higher-margin revenue associated with the actual use of the machines tops the initial hardware sales. In short, they're not collecting dust after being purchased by physicians, dermatologists, and other weight-loss specialists.
Revenue growth continues to decelerate. The seemingly impressive 36% year-over-year surge on the top line is actually the weakest increase since the second quarter of 2013, according to S&P Capital IQ data. However, the shift to the chunkier margins in its consumable revenue -- and revenue cycles have soared 55% over the past year -- have resulted in expanding gross profit margins.
It's not trickling all the way down to the bottom line. Zeltiq's investments in super-sizing its sales team and marketing the platform have eaten away at overall profitability. It's hard to make earnings grow when a 36% year-over-year uptick in revenue is more than offset by a 54% spike in operating expenses. However, after a couple years of red ink Zeltiq has come through with a profit in five of the past six quarters. Zeltiq's earnings of $0.05 a share were a step down from its profit of $0.12 a share a year earlier, but the market was braced for a quarterly deficit. That didn't happen.
Zeltiq continues to find new ways to use its machine. It was initially approved by regulators to treat flanks or love handles. It then expanded to thighs and stomachs. It continues to make headway on CoolMini, a tweak that would treat smaller areas including double chins and the CoolSmooth Pro applicator that will shorten procedure times by using cooler temperatures. Zeltiq remains on track to go with colder temperatures next year, and that could be a game changer since shaving the procedure time by nearly half would translate into more treatments per machine.
Improving prospects find Zeltiq once again juicing up some aspects of its outlook for the entire year. It now sees $252 million in revenue for 2015. That was a range of $245 million to $247 million three months earlier, $235 million to $238 million three months before that, and $230 million to $235 million when it initiated its guidance back in January. It also boosted its outlook for operating margin and adjusted EBITDA slightly higher.
Zeltiq has quietly emerged as a market darling. The stock's been a 10-bagger since bottoming out in early 2013. CoolSculpting machines may prove slimming, but the stock itself is gladly taking on weight.