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TheStreet Open House

Groupon (GRPN) Wants to be the Google of Bargains

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Groupon  (GRPN) climbed 6.8% to $10.15 by mid-afternoon, buoyed by management's promise of a shifting business model. During a post-earnings conference call, CEO Eric Lefkofsky detailed the site's plans to shift from a "push" or email-based business model to "pull" or search-based.

"With the adoption of Pull, our average redemption time is dropped dramatically, which should promote overall redemption and lower the barrier for our customers to make subsequent purchases," said Lefkofsky. "We believe customers come to the site with expectation of using their Groupon now or in the near future. This manifests in shorter redemption cycles."

Since January, the Chicago-based company has seen customers who redeem within 24 hours of purchase double to more than 12%. Payment methods are also being refined to make the purchasing process seamless and multiple customer visits more likely.

Groupon also said it will purchase South Korean business Ticket Monster from one of its largest competitors Living Social. The deal, expected to close in the first half 2014, will cost $260 million in cash and stock.

"Ticket Monster is a perfect fit for Groupon as we continue to transition our business globally from a flash sale email model to a mobile commerce marketplace," said Lefkofsky in a statement. The acquisition will add 4 million active customers and $800 million in annual billings to the online retailer's portfolio.

Mixed third-quarter financials moderated investor enthusiasm, however. After reporting Thursday evening, shares of the ecommerce site plummeted 12.5% in post-market trading, not recovering until before the bell Friday.

For the third quarter, profits of 2 cents a share beat by a penny, according to analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, while revenue of $595.1 million missed the mark by $20.6 million. Estimated fourth-quarter revenue in the range of $690 million to $740 million was as expected, though projected profits of 2 cents a share at the high range was below consensus of 6 cents a share.

North American sales, which contribute 61% to total revenue, were up 24% over the year-ago quarter though far from the second quarter's 45% growth. Sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa saw the biggest losses, down 21% compared to the third quarter 2012.

--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff.

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