The sky continues to fall at Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN). Shares of the leading group-buying website operator were among last week's biggest losers, plunging 26% after putting out another unappetizing quarterly report.
Revenue clocked in at $713.6 million for the third quarter, essentially flat with the $714.3 million it rang up a year earlier. An 11% surge in North America was offset by an international decline. Back out the unfavorable currency swings and adjusted revenue would have inched 7% higher, but the market's not happy. Wall Street expected $732.7 million on the top line.
The market also wasn't impressed to hear that COO Rich Williams was tapped as its new CEO last week. Some on Wall Street may have been holding out for a glitzier helmsman, but Groupon's board voted unanimously to send the four-year Groupon exec to the top of the corporate chart.
Groupon's adjusted profit of $0.05 a share did top the $0.02 a share that analysts were expecting, but the former dot-com darling's outlook for the seasonally potent holiday quarter calls for roughly breakeven results. Those same Wall Street pros were forecasting net income of $0.07 a share for the new quarter.
The present is a pretty blurry space for Groupon. Williams recognizes that his company needs to invest in customer acquisition, something that will eat away at the bottom line in the near term. He also realizes that Groupon needs to continue to scale back overseas and devote its Groupon Goods platform to higher-margin merchandise.
It's the right strategy, but it's going to create a rough transition where the bottom line takes a hit before the top line can take off. Groupon's targeting $815 million to $865 million in revenue for the holiday quarter, well below last year's $925.4 million tally.
This has been a forgettable year for Groupon. It has backed out of several international markets. There have been layoffs. It's been an equally forgettable year for Groupon investors. The stock has shed more than two-thirds of its value through 2015, hitting another 52-week low earlier today. If the shares break below $2.60, it would be a new all-time low, and an embarrassing stock chart for a company that went public at $20 in a ball of hype four years ago.
If there's a silver lining in the crummy price action, it's that bears are starting to move on. There were a record 89 million shares of Groupon sold short as of mid-August, but that has dropped down to fewer than 69 million shares two months later.
Groupon isn't going away. It still has a cash-rich balance sheet with nearly $1 billion in cash and cash equivalents. Gross bookings continue to remain positive in North America, but let's see how the holiday quarter plays out before calling the stock's fresh lows a buying opportunity. The stock is trading this low because Groupon has a lot to prove.
Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.