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Groupon Inc. (GRPN - Analyst Report) reported second quarter 2012 results with earnings of 8 cents per share, much better than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 2 cents. However, revenue was well short of the consensus mark. Shares plunged 19.74% to $6.06 in after hours trading.

Quarter Details

Revenue jumped 44.8% on a year-over-year basis to $568.3 million and was within the management’s guided range of $550.0 million to $590.0 million. Region wise, revenue in North America soared 65.5% year over year to $260.2 million. Groupon’s international revenue shot up 30.9% year over year to $308.2 million.

The strong revenue growth can be attributed to higher gross billing, which surged 38.0% year over year to $1.29 billion in the reported quarter. This huge growth can be attributed to a steady increase in the number of active customers, which surpassed 38 million as of June 30, 2012.

A significant decline in marketing expenses, down 58.0% year over year, helped Groupon to generate an operating profit (including stock-based compensation) of $44.9 million compared to a loss of $101.0 million in the year-ago quarter.

Groupon reported net income of $53.8 million or 8 cents compared to a net loss of $68.7 million or 23 cents per share in the second quarter of 2011. Including stock-based compensation of $27.1 million but excluding acquisition related charges of $1.6 million, net income was $26.8 million or 4 cents in the reported quarter.

As of June 30, 2012, Groupon’s cash and cash equivalents amounted to $1.19 billion compared with $1.16 billion in the previous quarter. Cash flow from operating activities was $75.3 million compared with $83.7 million in the previous quarter. Free cash flow was $48.6 million compared with $70.6 million at the end of first quarter.

Outlook

Groupon provided an optimistic outlook for third quarter of 2012. The company forecasts revenue to increase in the range of 35.0% to 44.0% and to remain within a range of $580.0 million to $620.0 million. Groupon expects operating income to be in the range of $15.0 million to $35.0 million for the third quarter.

Our Take

We believe that Groupon is well positioned to gain from rising e-commerce spending on mobile devices, a profitable domestic market and an under-penetrated international market. We expect these opportunities to continue to drive top-line growth going forward.

Moreover, Groupon has been on an acquisition spree over the last couple of quarters as the company acquired a number of companies such as Uptake, Hyperpublic, Adku, and FeeFighters. These acquisitions are expected to boost Groupon’s position in the small and medium-size business (SMB) market, apart from expanding its technology and product portfolio.

Groupon enjoys a first-mover advantage in the daily deals market based on its well-recognized discount coupons. However, we believe that the market is getting more competitive due to the growing interest of technology stalwarts such as Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN - Analyst Report) and Google Inc. . Moreover, a sluggish European market remains a major headwind going forward.

Further, we believe that Groupon needs to post profits on a consistent basis for the next couple of quarters to gain the confidence of its jittery investors. Until that happens, we prefer to remain Neutral on the stock over the long term. 

Currently, Groupon has a Zacks #3 Rank, which implies a Hold rating in the short term.

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