Yelp shares pop 15% despite lackluster earnings

Yelp shares pop 15% despite lackluster earnings
By: WNG CNBC Posted On: November 08, 2019 View: 45

Yelp shares pop 15% despite lackluster earnings

Jeremy Stoppelman, chief executive officer of Yelp Inc., center, rings the opening bell with Chief Operating Officer Geoff Donaker, second left, and Chief Financial Officer Rob Krolik, right, at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Friday, March 2, 2012. Yelp Inc., the site that lets users review everything from diners to dentists, surged as much as 73 percent in its first day of trading after selling shares for more than planned in an initial public offering.

Yelp shares rose 15% Friday morning despite reporting an earnings miss Thursday.

While the crowd-sourced reviews company reported third-quarter earnings on Thursday that missed expectations on the bottom line and barely topped revenue expectations, shares rose more than 15% Friday. Yelp reported earnings per share of $0.14, falling short of $0.19 expected, and the company posted revenues of $262.47 million versus $262.25 million expected.

Despite a no-frills third-quarter, investors were heartened by Yelp's fourth-quarter guidance.

"Yelp reported mostly inline 3Q19 results, and guided to 4Q19 revenue and adjusted EBITDA growth below Street expectations, but still better than many investors feared," a Wedbush analysts wrote in a note Friday. "While slightly below consensus, 4Q guidance still implies revenue acceleration into the low-teens and continued margin expansion."

Yelp posted fourth-quarter guidance expecting 11% to 13% revenue growth and an adjusted EBITDA margin increase of 2% to 3%. The company underscored the changing industry, rising sales and marketing costs, difficulties maintaining high-quality user-generated content and retention of advertisers as ongoing risks.

Some of the investor excitement may be because third-quarter earnings imply that Yelp has yet to be significantly hurt by increased competition with Google. However, some investors are more bearish on the stock, unsure if Yelp will remain competitive moving forward.

"Yelp's 3Q results seemed unaffected from increased search changes and competition, and the company attributes this to success with the app. Nevertheless, threats from search, Google Maps, and vertical specific players continue to loom," a note from Raymond James said Friday. "Given the degree of acceleration implied in 4Q guidance, small changes in the search funnel and competitive landscape could carry a disproportionate impact."

Yelp co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman responded to investor concerns about advertising competition with Google by emphasizing increased regulatory scrutiny against Google and the growth of the Yelp app.

"Obviously there's always going to be some volatility on the [search engine optimization] side as Google tweaks algorithms, but we feel great about all the engagement we see on our Yelp app and continue to see overall engagement at a healthy rate," Stoppelman said during the company's earnings call Thursday.

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