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Why Yelp, Inc. Stock Plunged Today

By Steve Symington - Feb 8, 2016 at 12:49PM

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The local-business review specialist fell ahead of its quarterly report. Here's what investors need to know.

What: Shares of Yelp (YELP 4.80%) were down 11.9% as of 11:15 a.m. ET after analysts at Susquehanna reduced the firm's per-share price target for the Internet-based local business review company to $20 from $22.

So what: Susquehanna also reiterated its neutral rating on the stock. To be fair, however, that's still a healthy premium from Yelp's current price around $16 per share. And Yelp stock has been effectively crushed amid the broader market's pullback so far this year, more than giving up the 30%-plus gain it enjoyed after posting solid third-quarter results at the end of October.

Now what: You can bet Yelp hopes to put any concerns of rising competition and sluggish growth behind it with this evening's report. In particular, the report should offer perspective on Yelp's increasing role in guiding consumers' shopping habits as mobile Internet connectivity becomes more ubiquitous.

In November, for example, Yelp management announced its mobile app had grown to represent around 71% of all searches across Yelp's ecosystem. Going forward, Yelp will also need to demonstrate to investors that growth in monthly unique visitors (up 22% year over year in Q3 to 89 million) can continue offsetting declines in desktop monthly unique visitors (down 2% last quarter to 79 million). In the end, if Yelp shows it managed to carry forward last quarter's momentum into the crucial holiday season, don't be surprised if the stock's subsequent pop erases this morning's deficit.

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