NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- You lose if you do and you lose if you don't. Some companies just can't seem to catch a break. Although Groupon (GRPN - Get Report) didn't have an exceptionally strong fourth quarter, it certainly didn't justify the 22% pullback in the stock last Friday.
Although the stock has rebounded 7% since the decline, Groupon's stock is off by more than $1 billion in value on the basis of one quarter. Why? It's true the company reported a loss, while attempting to do exactly what analysts believe it should do to remain viable. These steps include international expansion and mobile monetization.
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Guess which two companies went through these same sort of execution headwinds and constant scrutiny from analysts? Netflix (NFLX) and Facebook (FB). This was prior to their respective stocks soaring more than 200% over the trailing twelve months. It seems like a long time ago now. Groupon is in that same boat. But don't take this as some misguided support.
Look, over the past couple of years, I've taken my own shots at this company. After arriving on the scene with much fanfare, I even called Groupon's business model a scam. It was the only way to assess its brutal 2012 performance. Since then the company has taken meaningful strides. The downbeat guidance notwithstanding, this quarter's results reflected ongoing improvements.
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Fourth-quarter revenue rose 20% year over year to $768.4 million, easily beating Street estimates by 7%. When excluding one-time items, the company earned 4 cents per share, which doubled Street estimates of 2 cents. And as bad as analysts are making the net loss of $81.2 million, this was (at worst) flat compared to the year-ago quarter.
I'm not here making excuses for Groupon. Nor am I proclaiming this company to be flawless. But let's not pretend that this has been a strong quarter for online retailers. The Street doesn't seem to mind that Amazon (AMZN), which cited increases in its holiday shopping costs for missing both profit and revenue estimates, hasn't fared any better. Although Groupon was hurt this quarter by higher costs, we conveniently forget that eBay's (EBAY) numbers also fell short.