Online food delivery services provider GrubHub (GRUB) - Get Report reported fourth-quarter earnings that, ironically, failed to deliver on Wall Street's forecasts. The stock paid a price, sliding $1.55, or nearly 4%, to slide back below $40 a share at $39.77 intraday Wednesday.
The Chicago-based online services provider recorded 23 cents a share in adjusted earnings per share, missing targets of 25 cents. Revenue also came in a little light of forecasts, reaching $137.4 million, vs. forecasts of $137.7 million.
The stock has given up most of its outperformance of the broader market from the last three months; shares increased 9% since reporting third-quarter results Oct. 26, vs. the S&P 500's 7% improvement over that time frame.
Still, there are signs GrubHub is winning the battle for American stomachs, as active diners climbed 21% to 8.17 million, with gross food sales of $818 million, up 27%. The company has been competing with both smaller local and regional food service delivery providers as well as national entrants such as Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report Prime Now and UberEats. However, many of the smaller peers have been increasingly focused on profitability instead of just pure growth.
Nevertheless, GrubHub's sales and marketing expenses increased 19% in the fourth quarter ended in December, even though its penetration in many of its markets remained below the 10% level it enjoys in core markets such as Chicago and New York City.
"We think GRUB is priced to beat and raise," David Reynolds, an analyst following the company at Jefferies, said in a note Wednesday, adding, "not sure they delivered today, excuse the pun," adding that the performance doesn't merit material upgrades. Still, the stock trades at 19 times Jefferies' 2017 adjusted Ebitda estimate.
Discussing its results, GrubHub management said it wanted to focus on growing the restaurants that it services. GrubHub garners its revenue by charging restaurants a commission for delivering food to customers.
GrubHub came into its own with its acquisition in 2013 of rival Seamless, and had an initial public offering in April 2014. Within a year the stock was trading at its all-time high of $46, but by January of last year had retreated 63%, though it has made back most of that ground.
The company said it expected its first-quarter revenue to come in between $148 million and $156 million, bracketing forecasts of $150 million, with its year sales at $620 million to $660 million, vs. forecasts of $619 million.