After Doubling, Groupon Shares Now Appear Fully Valued

After two very accurate calls on Groupon (GRPN) stock on this blog; bearish on the company’s $20 per share IPO in 2011 (Numbers Behind Groupon’s Business Warrant Caution), and bullish last year as the stock was being priced like trash at $4.50 (Isn’t Groupon Worth Something), I should probably quit while I am ahead. But what the heck, let’s try to go 3-for-3.

In the year since my last Groupon post the stock has doubled to $9 per share, giving the company an equity market value of $6 billion. At this point I believe the market has appropriately priced it, understanding that while the company’s growth has come to a screeching halt, it has a sustainable business (which I argued was not the consensus view at a $3 billion market cap). The company is profitable, proving the naysayers who raised solvency concerns last year wrong, and should book about $2.5 billion in revenue this year.

grpn-july-2013

It is hard to argue that the stock is worth materially more than the current price, in my view. While I still believe that high fixed-cost businesses, such as hotels and movie theaters, will continue to use Groupon to draw customers to fill unbooked rooms and empty seats, many small businesses will realize that repeated Groupon promotions aren’t likely to pay off meaningfully for them. While new businesses should still consider Groupon for an awareness campaign (again, my personal view), growth from new vendors is not going to move the needle very much now that Groupon has become a multi-billion dollar company.

Today, Groupon’s daily deals business is likely to succeed with only a subset of small businesses nationwide, and their Groupon Goods overstock retail offerings can certainly move volume, albeit at very low, Amazon-like profit margins. So while Groupon stock has done well lately as the doomsayers quiet down, I don’t see how one arrives at a valuation much higher than $6 billion/$9 per share, and there are risks to the business longer term from a competitive perspective. A year from now, I’ll try and revisit the stock again and see if I was able to go 3-for-3.

Full Disclosure: No position in GRPN at the time of writing, but positions may change at any time

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